If FDA commissioner Robert Califf listens to outside advice, he would create a powerful post — deputy commissioner for food — as part of restructuring of the agency. Califf could unveil a "new vision" for the FDA — which has been criticized as a disorganized protecter of the food supply — as early as Tuesday. The common idea from lawmakers, the food industry and public health groups was to put one person in charge of FDA's food offices.
Deputy commissioner Frank Yiannas resigned as the top food safety official at the FDA, effective Feb. 24, in a three-page letter that defended his record and criticized the agency for a decentralized structure that hobbled its protection of the food supply.
Just a single serving of freshwater fish per year could result in the same exposure to the “forever chemical” perfluorooctane sulfonate as drinking a month's worth of water laced with the chemical, according to a study published Tuesday in the journal Environmental Research. (No paywall)
In some of its final actions of the year, the Senate approved by voice vote on Thursday the nominations of Doug McKalip as chief agricultural negotiator at the U.S. trade representative’s office and Jose Esteban as Agriculture undersecretary for food safety.
A new study published in the journal Science of the Total Environment shows that while Lake Erie fish fillets are safe to eat, the fish themselves may not be doing so well.(No paywall)
The federal government will keep a closer eye on threats to the U.S. food supply, such as cyberattacks and pandemic diseases, under a national security memorandum signed by President Biden.
Poultry processors could be required to test birds for salmonella bacteria before slaughter and for so-called indicator organisms during processing under a USDA proposal aimed at reducing food-borne illnesses in raw poultry. Under the framework, the Food Safety and Inspection Service might create an enforceable standard to prevent sale of poultry with high levels of the bacteria.
The notoriously volatile weedkiller dicamba was blamed for 3,500 incidents of "off-target" damage this year, including to more than 1 million acres of soybeans, said the EPA on Tuesday. The regulator said it was reviewing whether dicamba "can be used in a manner that does not pose unreasonable risks" and said it would help states that wish to restrict use of the herbicide.
Fruit and vegetable growers would be required to conduct annual assessments of their water supplies to identify and mitigate threats of contamination for their crops under a rule proposed by the FDA on Thursday. The assessments would replace a requirement that growers conduct tests of water quality.
Jose Esteban, the chief scientist at USDA's meat inspection agency, is President Biden's choice to become agriculture undersecretary for food safety, announced the White House. If confirmed by the Senate, Esteban would be the USDA leader on issues ranging from prevention of food-borne illness to regulation of cell-cultured meat, now approaching commercialization.
Dr. Robert Califf, who led the FDA during the last year of the Obama administration, would run the agency again if the Senate agrees with President Biden's nomination. The president said Califf "has the experience and expertise to lead the Food and Drug Administration during a critical time in our nation’s fight to put an end to the coronavirus pandemic."
Pointing to the tens of thousands of salmonella illnesses linked to poultry products each year, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said on Tuesday that the USDA would mobilize "a stronger and more comprehensive effort" to reduce the risk of the disease-causing bacteria in raw poultry meat. The process could include pilot projects that encourage "pre-harvest controls" on the farm, an area not directly under USDA jurisdiction.
The USDA's food safety agency is considering new approaches to reduce salmonella bacteria in poultry that could include "pre-harvest interventions" on the farm, said Agriculture Deputy Undersecretary Saundra Eskin on Tuesday. "We know that most salmonella contamination enters the facility with the birds and the more we can do to reduce contamination at the point of slaughter, the less contamination and cross-contamination we have in an establishment."
Sandra Eskin, director of food safety for the Pew Charitable Trusts, was appointed deputy undersecretary for food safety, announced the USDA on Tuesday.
The coronavirus pandemic, which has disrupted food supplies and heightened food insecurity, should be the impetus for unified oversight of the food system, now splintered among dozens of regulatory agencies, said an "urgent call" for action from groups at the Harvard and Vermont law schools on Thursday.
Food regulators from Mexico and the United States issued a statement of intent on Monday to expand a six-year-old partnership on food safety to cover all of the human food regulated by the FDA. Mexico is a leader in food trade with the United States; about one-third of all the food imported …
In the coming weeks and months, tens of thousands of migrant farmworkers will arrive in agricultural centers across the nation, where they will live and work in conditions that are prime for a coronavirus outbreak. Yet despite the fact that these are the men and women Americans depend on to plant, tend, and harvest their food, "these workers and their advocates say that many of the farmers who employ them have provided virtually no information on how they can protect themselves, their co-workers, and their families from the coronavirus — creating the potential for a massive public-health and food-security crisis."(No paywall)
Nine months after U.S. regulators found an industrial “forever chemical” in chocolate cake at levels some 250 times higher than federal recommendations, nearly three dozen independent scientists from 11 countries are warning that inadequate global regulations of chemicals in food packaging pose a growing risk to human health.(No paywall)