US Labor Department Fines Meatpacking Sanitation Company $1.5M For Underage Employees
Image Source: US Department of Labor
Labor Department officials found that Packers Sanitation Services, America's largest food sanitation services company, employed at least 102 children ranging from age 13 to 17 in hazardous occupations in meat processing facilities across eight states. The children were exposed to hazardous chemicals and cleaned meat processing equipment, including back saws, brisket saws and head splitters. At least three of the children suffered injuries on the job. Packers has agreed to pay more than $1.5 million in civil penalties. The Labor Department has also launched a widespread crackdown on child migrant labor in other industries.
US Food And Drug Administration Adds Sesame To Major Food Allergens List
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Sesame is the ninth most common US allergen. As of January 1, this ingredient is now subject to the same labeling and manufacturing requirements as milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat and soybeans. According to a 2019 study, about 1 in 200 Americans report having an allergy to sesame, and about 1 in 4 of those have experienced severe reactions. Look for "CONTAINS SESAME" coming to food labels near you.
Independent Panel Recommends Major Overhaul Of Flawed FDA Food Safety Program
Image Source: Rick Bowmer/AP
In the wake of the infant formula shortage, an expert panel review of the Food and Drug Administration determined that its food division has no clear leadership, avoids bold policy or enforcement actions, and doesn’t adequately protect public health. The panel recommends restructuring the organization to establish a food safety agency separate from the drug division. The FDA says it will release its new plans in January and begin implementing them in February. Will FDA Commissioner Robert Califf put a single deputy in charge of food safety? The budget is there; all that remains is the willpower.
Pork Industry Takes Fight Over California Law To US Supreme Court
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Last year, California voted to improve bar the in-state sale of pork, veal and eggs from animals whose confinement failed to meet minimum space requirements (24 square feet for breeding pigs vs. the current 14-20 feet). The National Pork Producers Council sued, arguing that increased costs for pig farmers violate the "Commerce Clause," which prevents states from passing laws discriminating against commerce in other states. Proponents argue that CA has the right to set standards for products sold to CA consumers regardless of where they are produced. It's a sticky issue, and pork producers are hedging their bets. Top producer Smithfield Foods said last year it plans to comply, and #2 producer Seaboard Foods said it has already begun converting its facilities.
FDA Announces External Review Of Food Safety And Tobacco Regulatory Offices
Image Source: Jose Luis Magana/AP Photo
Facing criticism for its role in the infant formula shortage and under-regulation of e-cigarettes, the Food and Drug Administration has ordered an external review of its own offices on food safety and tobacco regulation. Congress and FDA Commissioner Robert Califf have tasked the independent Reagan-Udall Foundation with assessing the resources, procedures and organization of the two offices, as well as parts of the Office of Regulatory Affairs. The review will focus on the Human Foods Program, the Office of Food Policy and Response, and the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition in an effort to improve the FDA's regulatory and oversight processes.