Category Archives Department of Agriculture

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced a public meeting to receive comments on the U.S. positions for the Codex Alimentarius Committee meeting on Nutrition and Foods for Special Dietary Uses. The public meeting, which will be held October 19, 2021, will include discussions on a draft guide for ready-to-use therapeutic foods and the establishment of nutrient reference values-requirements for those aged 6-36 months.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has requested comments on "the labeling of meat and poultry products comprised of or containing cultured cells derived from animals subject to the Federal Meat Inspection Act or the Poultry Products Inspection Act." Comments will be accepted until November 2, 2021. The announcement details the U.S. Cattlemen's Association's 2018 petition urging the agency to "limit the definition of 'beef' to products derived from cattle born, raised, and harvested in the traditional manner, and thereby prohibit foods comprised of or containing cultured animal cells from being labeled as 'beef.'” In response to the petition, the agency received more than 6,000 comments "from trade associations, consumer advocacy groups, businesses operating in the meat, poultry, and cultured food product markets, and consumers," the announcement states. "Most comments opposed the petition overall; however, nearly all generally agreed that cultured meat and beef should be labeled in a manner that…

The Center for Science in the Public Interest has joined three other advocacy groups and four poultry producers to urge the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to update poultry food safety standards. "While progress on reducing foodborne illness has been at a standstill, scientific knowledge of Salmonella has greatly increased and recognized best practices for Campylobacter and other pathogens have advanced. Science tells us that current performance standards do not effectively target the particular types of Salmonella and the levels of bacteria that pose the greatest risks of illness, and the overall regulatory framework does not adequately harness modern tools for preventing and verifying control of the bacteria that are making people sick," the letter to Secretary Tom Vilsack states. "In order to finally make public health progress on Salmonella and Campylobacter illnesses and meet the Healthy People 2030 targets, significant change in the [Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS)]…

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced public meetings to discuss U.S. positions for Codex Alimentarius Commission sessions on food contaminants and additives. The contaminants meeting will be held April 12, 2021, and will address issues such as maximum levels of cadmium in chocolate, levels of lead in multiple food categories, radioactivity in water, methylmercury in fish and aflatoxins in spices. The meeting on additives, which will be held May 11, 2021, will include a discussion on proposed draft specifications for identity and purity of food additives.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA's) inspector general will reportedly review how the agency handled inspections during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to The Washington Post. The probe will review how the Food Safety and Inspection Service spent $33 million in extra funding provided by Congress in March 2020, including what precautions were taken to protect the health of inspectors. The probe comes amid elevated scrutiny on how meatpacking plants have handled the pandemic, including lawsuits targeting meat companies. A Nebraska court dismissed a lawsuit brought by former employees of a Noah's Ark Processors plant alleging the company failed to implement proper precautions to stop the spread of the virus, holding that the employees lacked standing because they no longer work at the plant. Alma v. Noah's Ark Processors LLC, No. 20-3141 (D. Neb., entered March 1, 2021).

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have issued a joint statement stating that "there is no credible evidence of food or food packaging associated with or as a likely source of viral transmission of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the virus causing COVID-19." The statement was issued one week after the World Health Organization reportedly stated that the virus could be transmitted on frozen food packaging. "The USDA and the FDA are sharing this update based upon the best available information from scientific bodies across the globe, including a continued international consensus that the risk is exceedingly low for transmission of SARS-CoV-2 to humans via food and food packaging. For example, a recent opinion from the International Commission on Microbiological Specifications for Foods (ICMSF), stated: 'Despite the billions of meals and food packages handled since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, to…

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has released its final rule governing the cultivation of hemp, which will take effect March 22, 2021. The draft rule would have required hemp to be shown to contain less than 0.3% tetrahydrocannibanol (THC) on testing conducted within 15 days of harvest, a proposal that drew criticism from several parties. The final rule reduces some of the requirements, such as allowing 30 days to test and raising the negligence threshold to 1% rather than 0.5%. The rule also allows some flexibility for states to develop testing methods that take into account variables such as regional environmental factors.

President Biden has withdrawn an executive order that would have allowed 25% faster processing speeds on poultry lines in meatpacking plants. The policy change would have allowed plants to process 175 slaughtered birds per minute, up from 140, in accordance with a proposal by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service. Criticism of the proposal came from advocacy groups that argued the faster speeds with endanger workers, especially after a study purportedly showed that plants with waivers allowing the faster speeds had higher COVID-19 transmission rates.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has partially granted a petition filed by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) about the use of "No Nitrate or Nitrite Added" and "Uncured" on labels for "products that have been processed using any source of nitrates or nitrites." FSIS indicated in its response letter to CSPI that it will issue a rulemaking proposing the regulation of such phrases but noted, "However, rather than requiring disclosure statements about the use of nitrate or nitrites on labels of meat and poultry products, as requested in the petition, FSIS intends to propose to amend and clarify its meat and poultry labeling regulations to establish new definitions for 'Cured' and 'Uncured.' The basis for these proposed changes would be discussed in detail in the proposed rule, which is listed in the Fall 2020 Semiannual Regulatory Agenda, with a tentative…

Close