Busy week? We’ve rounded up the major food news you might have missed.
Hawaii Aims to Be 1st to Help Farmers Get Certified Organic (Associated Press)
Hawaii is the first state to pass legislation providing tax breaks to farmers to offset the cost of U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) organic certification. The legislation would give farmers up to $50,000 in tax credits for qualifying expenses, including application fees, inspection costs, and equipment or supplies needed to produce organic products. Doug Farquhar, director of agriculture for the National Conference of State Legislatures, said Hawaii has fewer industries competing for tax credits compared with other states, which allows it to pull ahead in subsidies for organic farming. Governor David Ige said he has not yet decided whether he will sign the bill into law.
FDA Re-Evaluates Labels for ‘Healthy’ and ‘Natural’ Foods (ABC News)
This week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said it would now allow KIND Health Snacks to label its products as “healthy.” Previously, the agency had said that the company’s snacks did not meet the criteria for “healthy” food because of the fat content of the nuts in their products. After KIND launched a citizen’s petition aimed at getting the FDA to rethink its categorization of “healthy” foods in general, the FDA said it would “reevaluate regulations concerning nutrient content claims, generally, including the term ‘healthy.’” The agency said it plans to solicit public comment. It recently solicited input from the public and industry regarding the use and definition of another vague term used on labels: “natural.” A Consumer Reports survey released this week found that 73 percent of U.S. adults buy foods labeled as “natural,” even though the term has little or no meaning in the marketplace and no federal or third-party standards or verification.
FDA Will Collect Sales Data on Antibiotics Used for Food-Producing Livestock (STAT)
Following pressure by consumer groups and lawmakers over concerns about antibiotic resistance, the FDA has issued a rule that will require drug makers to report the amount of antibiotics that are sold for use with food-producing livestock. The agency hopes that by collecting this data, it will better understand exactly how antibiotics are used by farms that raise hogs, cattle, chickens, or turkeys for human consumption (i.e., how much is used for growth promotion versus to prevent or treat illness in animals). Until now, the FDA has only tracked the total quantity of antibiotics used.
Big Poultry Workers Are Literally Peeing Their Pants So That Americans Can Have Cheap Chicken (Quartz)
A new Oxfam America report details the pain and discomfort poultry workers in the U.S. suffer while they worry about their health and job security. Poultry workers—there are roughly 250,000 in the U.S.—say they are routinely denied time to use the bathroom, and are forced to urinate and defecate into diapers while standing in line. They also restrict intake of liquids and fluids to dangerous degrees. While the poultry industry enjoys record profits and produces billions of chickens, workers earn low wages, suffer elevated rates of injury and illness, and toil in harsh conditions.