public health

Administration calls for full WIC funding in 2024

Congress should provide an additional $1 billion for the Women, Infants, and Children nutrition program in January when it votes on funding for the USDA and several other federal departments, said Biden administration officials on Wednesday.

Sales of antibiotics for food animals up again, reports FDA

Drugmakers sold 24.6 million pounds of antibiotics for use in cattle, hogs, and poultry last year, up 4 percent from 2021 and the second increase in two years, said the Food and Drug Administration on Thursday.

FDA proposes banning brominated vegetable oil as food additive

The Food and Drug Administration moved to ban the use of brominated vegetable oil in food on Thursday, saying new tests proved conclusively that it was not safe. The agency acted a month after California outlawed BVO, along with three other food additives: potassium bromate, propylparaben, and red dye No. 3.

Food insecurity soars 30 percent as pandemic aid ends

More than 44 million Americans experienced food insecurity last year, the highest number since 2014, at the same time that pandemic assistance was reduced, said a USDA report on Wednesday. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and anti-hunger groups called on Congress to protect funding for public nutrition programs, including WIC and SNAP.

New FDA food chief names top three priorities

A month after starting work as the FDA’s first deputy commissioner for human foods, Jim Jones on Thursday listed three areas for attention to promote the health and wellness of Americans: preventing foodborne illness, decreasing diet-related chronic disease through improved nutrition, and protecting the food supply through the safe use of chemicals and dietary supplements.

As part of reorganization, FDA names its first deputy commissioner for food

Seven months after saying he would put more emphasis on food safety, FDA commissioner Robert Califf announced the appointment of James Jones as the agency’s first deputy commissioner for human foods on Wednesday. Jones, a former EPA pesticide regulator, was a member of a task force calling for unified leadership on food safety duties that have been scattered among FDA offices.

USDA asks, is it really antibiotic-free, raised humanely?

Two USDA agencies will begin a sampling project to see if there are antibiotic residues in beef marketed as “raised without antibiotics,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Wednesday. The USDA’s food safety agency will also issue a guideline recommending that companies produce more proof when they want to use a label that says animals were raised under specific conditions.

Lawsuit challenges EPA approval of 2,4-D herbicides

The EPA failed to take environmental and public health risks into account when it reapproved two brand-name weedkillers produced by Corteva that contain the herbicide 2,4-D, according to a federal lawsuit that challenges the 2022 decision. The plaintiffs asked the U.S. district court in Washington, D.C., to vacate the registrations of Enlist One and Enlist Duo and to halt sales of the products while the EPA reconsiders their risks.

EPA ‘forever chemicals’ regs could cost communities billions, experts say

The Environmental Protection Agency is due to announce enforceable regulations on the amount of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, a class of thousands of chemicals collectively known as PFAS, allowed in drinking water. Those rules, which could be announced as early as today, could end up costing communities around the country nearly $40 billion to implement, according to the Associated Press.

Top FDA food safety official resigns as agency reorganization nears

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.

Advisory panel named for Dietary Guidelines update

The Biden administration appointed 20 food and nutrition experts on Thursday to help overhaul the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which provide food-based recommendations to prevent diet-related chronic diseases.

FDA updates criteria for when ‘healthy’ can appear on a food label

More foods could carry the word “healthy” on the label under an FDA proposal announced on Wednesday, if they are part of a healthy dietary pattern and recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The agency said it was updating its criteria for the “healthy” label in hopes of improving the U.S. diet.

Flavored milk is top source of added sugar in school meals, says report

The great majority of public schools serve breakfasts and lunches that contain higher amounts of added sugar than recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, said a USDA report to Congress. “The main source of added sugars ... was flavored fat-free milk,” it said.

As weather warms, algae blooms on waterways nationwide

With views of the Rocky Mountains, the occasional squadron of American white pelicans passing through, and a boardwalk for strolling, northern Colorado’s Windsor Lake is a popular destination for paddle boarding, kayaking, and swimming. But the lake is off-limits this week after city officials sampled the water and found concerning levels of blue-green algae, which can contain toxins harmful to humans, pets, and wildlife. (No paywall)

FDA says it will permanently streamline infant formula imports

A crash program to streamline U.S. imports of infant formula has worked so well, the FDA will make it permanent, said agency leaders on Wednesday. The program, which began in May when domestic supplies ran low, has resulted in shipments from nine countries of enough formula to fill 400 million 8-ounce bottles.

Flights to deliver 680,000 pounds of infant formula

The administration’s Operation Fly Formula will deliver 680,000 pounds of infant formula from makers in Great Britain and Australia beginning on June 9, said the White House on Wednesday. The deliveries would be the equivalent of 8.3 million 8-ounce bottles of formula.

Formula supply will improve ‘in a matter of days,’ says FDA chief

U.S. infant formula makers are revving up production and the door is open to imported formula, so “we should see improvement in a matter of days” from shortages nationwide, FDA commissioner Robert Califf said Thursday on Capitol Hill. Califf also said he would strengthen food safety procedures at the agency, though key lawmakers argued he was not going far enough.

To fight shortage, Biden gives infant formula makers priority for materials

President Biden invoked his executive powers on Wednesday to give infant formula manufacturers first call on ingredients, and announced Operation Fly Formula, which would carry formula from overseas suppliers to the United States. Both steps were aimed at alleviating shortages that followed the shutdown of a large formula plant in Michigan, where FDA inspectors found bacteria that can cause foodborne illness.

U.S. to look at alcohol, sustainability separately from Dietary Guidelines

In a first step toward a new edition of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the government proposed a list of questions for experts to consider, addressing such issues as obesity, the consumption of ultra-processed foods, and strategies for diet quality and weight management. Two hot-button issues — alcoholic beverages and sustainable food production — will be considered separately, it said.

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