Perdue completes overhaul of school food rules

In 2017, on just his sixth day in office, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue made chocolate milk safe for schools again, along with white flour and salt, in the name of “regulatory flexibility” for school food programs. On Thursday, the USDA said it will make those changes permanent.

In CDC report on ‘fast food,’ Sweetgreen and McDonald’s are treated as equals

A much-publicized report from the Centers for Disease Control released earlier this month found that more than a third of Americans eat fast food daily. But what wasn't included in the media coverage was that the study’s definition of "fast food" includes fast-casual restaurants, such as the custom-salad chain Sweetgreen, as well as coffee, bagel, and even ice cream shops. Such a broad definition, well beyond the burger-centric drive-through that the term "fast food" calls to mind, raises questions about how much the CDC data actually reveal about American eating habits.

Climate change puts more than a billion people at risk of iron deficiency

Rising levels of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will reduce the amount of nutrients in staple crops such as rice and wheat, say researchers at Harvard's public health school. As a consequence, more than 1 billion women and children would lose a large amount of their dietary iron intake and be at larger risk of anemia and other diseases.

New York taps controversial bonus program to preserve SNAP at farmers markets

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's plan to ensure farmers markets can continue accepting SNAP benefits through the end of the market season relies on funding from a controversial federal program that rewards states for implementing SNAP with low error rates—and that lawmakers may eliminate in the next farm bill. (No paywall)

A contract is rebid, and 40 percent of SNAP sales at farmers markets are up in the air

Earlier this year, when the USDA changed the vendor that runs its program that allows farmers markets to take SNAP benefits, it set off a chain reaction that could soon prevent thousands of poor people from using those benefits at the markets, reports FERN’s latest piece, published with The Washington Post. No paywall

Understanding the microbiome is the ‘next frontier in medicine’

Most of the trillions of bacteria and other organisms that live in and on our bodies — our microbiome — are in our intestinal tract, “where they are capable of influencing virtually every aspect of our health,” writes Rene Ebersole in FERN’s latest piece, published with Cooking Light. No paywall

Alcohol industry funding NIH study into benefits of drinking

An ambitious 10-year study undertaken by the National Institute for Health, which examines whether daily drinking can have positive health effects, is largely funded by the alcohol industry. It raises questions about the integrity of the trial and whether NIH employees broke the agency’s fundraising policies.

Kraft Heinz’ iconic products face changing consumer tastes

Thousands of workers have been laid off and several factories shuttered since the Brazilian investment firm 3G Capital helped facilitate Kraft’s acquisition of Heinz in 2015. Now, at the end of the trademark cost-cutting cycle that follows many 3G deals, Kraft Heinz must grapple with changing consumer preferences, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Food company coaches schools on ‘whole-grain waiver strategy’

A food service management company that operates in 600 U.S. school districts is offering them, in the words of its vice president for nutrition, “instructions” on how to get a waiver from the USDA requirement to serve whole-grain-rich bread, pasta, and baked goods to their students, said The Lunch Tray.