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.
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.
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.
In a White House video, President Biden said on Wednesday that the administration would “lay out our plan to combat hunger and improve nutrition for every American” at the hunger, nutrition, and health conference set for September. More than 10 percent of Americans were food insecure and hunger rates spiked during the early months of the pandemic.
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.
The Biden administration extended the Covid-19 public health emergency on Wednesday, keeping increased nutrition benefits for millions of families in place for the coming months.
After decades of fighting hunger with food stamps, WIC, and school lunch, the USDA will raise its aim to nutrition security, meaning consistent access to healthful foods for all Americans, said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Thursday. The new approach will rely on food education and outreach to neglected groups as well as stronger nutrition standards in federal food programs.
With a massive recall of infant formula underway, the USDA encouraged state and tribal officials on Wednesday to ensure that WIC recipients could exchange their recalled baby formula and use their WIC benefits to buy replacement products. Abbott announced a recall of three of its formula brands last week.
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.
Congress traditionally enacts the farm policy bills covering the gamut from crop subsidies to food stamps at the urging of a coalition of farm, conservation and anti-hunger groups. A former USDA official said the 2023 farm bill could be in peril if there is a repetition of the political turbulence that temporarily derailed the omnibus legislation twice in the eight years.
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.
Ending 14 years of regulatory and court battles, the EPA announced on Wednesday that it would ban agricultural use of the insecticide chlorpyrifos, which has been linked to learning disorders and can cause nausea, dizziness, and confusion. Regulators ended residential use of the pesticide, which works by attacking the nervous systems of insects, two decades ago.
Lawmakers filed companion bills in the House and Senate on Wednesday to create a standard format for front-of-package nutrition labels so consumers will have a better idea of what's in their food.
Participation in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) saw widespread declines during the pandemic, continuing a trend that took hold over the past decade due to significant enrollment hurdles. The declines contrasted with the sharp rise in demand for programs like SNAP and Medicaid. (No paywall)
Pandemic-era tweaks to the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children helped boost participation in the program, commonly known as WIC, after years of declining enrollment, according to a report released yesterday by the Food Research & Action Center.
Health and chemical giant Bayer said it would pursue a five-point plan to mitigate its future litigation risks over Roundup herbicide, including a discussion of whether to remain in the lawn-and-garden market and a continued pursuit of settlements of lawsuits that allege the weedkiller causes cancer.
After blasting the EPA for "13 years of interminable delay," the federal appeals court in San Francisco on Thursday set a 60-day deadline for the agency to either ban agricultural use of the pesticide chlorpyrifos or set newer and safer exposure levels for the chemical. The dissenter in the 2-1 decision said the short time frame "virtually guarantees" a ban.
Sandra Eskin, director of food safety for the Pew Charitable Trusts, was appointed deputy undersecretary for food safety, announced the USDA on Tuesday.
The government will distribute more than 25 million washable face masks through community health centers and the food bank network over the next three months, announced the White House on Wednesday.