Eskin appointed to No. 2 food safety post at USDA

Sandra Eskin, director of food safety for the Pew Charitable Trusts, was appointed deputy undersecretary for food safety, announced the USDA on Tuesday.

U.S. to donate masks to food banks and pantries

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.

Bayer offers up to $2 billion to settle future Roundup lawsuits

In its second proposal to settle future lawsuits that allege its Roundup weedkiller is carcinogenic, seed and ag-chemical giant Bayer said on Wednesday that it would pay up to $200 million to individual claimants and a maximum of $2 billion overall to cover lawsuits filed in the next four years.

FDA cool to USDA push to regulate GE livestock

Commissioner Stephen Hahn cited the FDA's role in approving a genetically modified pig for food and biomedical use — "a tremendous milestone for scientific innovation" — at the same time that his agency has been coolly neutral on Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue's proposal to have the USDA take over regulation of GE livestock.

With food workers likely to receive a Covid-19 vaccine early, experts say states should prepare now

Many states are prioritizing food system workers for early access to any Covid-19 vaccine, and experts say officials should begin outreach to workers now to overcome any trust, language, and access barriers, writes Leah Douglas in FERN’s latest story. A vaccine may be made available to …

Public health experts warn of possible Covid-19 resurgence at food plants this fall

Public health experts are concerned about a possible resurgence of Covid-19 in food production plants this fall, Leah Douglas reports in FERN’s latest story. They say more comprehensive testing, physical distancing, and better data reporting are essential to keeping the virus in check, even as …

One in five children are obese, says report

Childhood obesity continues to rise in the United States, reaching 19.3 percent at latest measurement, up by 5 percentage points for children ages 2-19 in two decades, said the annual State of Childhood Obesity report by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Obesity “continues to be a national …

Nitrate-tainted drinking water plagues California farmworker towns, study shows

California officials have long known that pollution from the state’s $50 billion farming industry fouls drinking water sources in poor Latino communities where many toil as farmworkers. Now a review of state and federal data shows the problem is getting worse. More than 5 million people in California’s largely Latino communities have nitrate levels in their drinking water at or above federal standards, says an analysis by the Environmental Working Group released Wednesday. (No paywall)

States are rolling back recent transparency measures in how they report meatpacking plant outbreaks

Several states introduced more rigorous public reporting of Covid-19 outbreaks and cases in the agriculture sector this summer after calls from advocates and the media for more transparency. But several of those efforts have been stalled, rolled back, or rely on outdated information, which public health experts and labor advocates say hinders communities’ and workers’ ability to curtail the spread of the virus.

Do soda taxes change minds?

Taxes on sugary drinks are often credited with reducing soda consumption by making the sweet beverages more expensive. The taxes may actually have a much smaller impact on how consumers view the sodas, say the authors of a study on the "non-pecuniary (non-price) effects of sugar-sweetened beverage policies."