National Residue Program for Meat, Poultry, and Egg Products: An Examination (Pew Charitable Trusts)
The Pew Charitable Trusts recently released a peer-reviewed study to assess the process by which the National Residue Program (NRP) tests for veterinary drugs and other chemical compounds in meat and poultry. The study, which is part of a larger effort to determine risks in the U.S. meat and poultry supply, revealed vulnerabilities and questions about—among other things—deficiencies in data transparency and the quality of the program’s reporting. Some compounds that experts agree pose a significant public health hazard, such as dioxins and certain heavy metals, are not tested for routinely, while others posing little risk are regularly included in sampling plans. Contamination of the nation’s food chain—specifically meat and poultry—can occur through exposure to the residues of drugs and pesticides used in agricultural production.
Antibiotic-free Chicken Chasing Cage-Free Eggs (Chicago Tribune)
Perdue, the country’s third-largest chicken producer, announced that two-thirds of its chickens are now raised without antibiotics. Those birds will be processed and marketed under Perdue’s “No Antibiotics Ever” label. The farms it work with will, however, continue to use antibiotics on sick birds. Karin Hoelzer, an officer in health programs at the Pew Charitable Trusts says, eliminating routine, nonmedical use of antibiotics benefits public health. The decision is a sound business one, too. A recent Deloitte study found that more people across age and income levels are buying food based on factors like health and social impact, rather than more traditional factors like price and taste.
New GE Salmon Labeling Bill Requires Third Party Review (Alaska Journal of Commerce)
Last week Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski introduced a bill that would require all genetically engineered salmon to carry the words “genetically engineered” or “GE” on the label. The bill would also require the Secretary of Health and Human Services to mandate a third-party review of FDA late 2015 decision to declare AquAdvantage genetically engineered salmon fit for human consumption. In addition to their criticism of the bill as an ecological and public health concern, state lawmakers point out that Alaska’s wild-caught sockeye salmon is among the state’s leading exports. Competition with GE fish (that grow twice as fast) could be detrimental. Last year, Representative Don Young (R-Alaska) presented companion bill for the House.
Congress Is About to Take Food Away From the Poorest People in America (The Nation)
On April 1, cuts from a 1996 welfare law will cause more than 500,000 adults to lose their Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP or “food stamp”) benefits. The cuts imposed will impact those characterized as “able-bodied adults without dependents” (ABAWD)—meaning adults without young children. The rule sets a three-month limit on food stamps across a three-year period “when they aren’t employed or in a work or training program for at least 20 hours a week.” SNAP recipients whose state operates few or no employment programs or those who fail to receive an offer for them, will still lose their benefits after three months.