Access to safe and healthy food is under attack
Federal actions have lowered school nutrition standards, removed important food safety protections, and delayed progress on labeling transparency. This Administration has proposed cuts to vital nutrition assistance programs and signaled its intent to get beneficiaries off the rolls by any means necessary. Below are a few of the most egregious changes.
  1. Federal rollbacks of school meal nutrition standards allow more sodium, more sugar, and fewer whole grains on kids’ plates as part of the National School Breakfast and School Lunch Program. Despite the fact that the vast majority of schools have successfully met the phased-in nutrition standards set in 2010 -- the first nutrition standard update to school meals since 2005 -- USDA has congratulated itself on loosening this rule, rather than providing technical assistance to schools who are having challenges. Read more about this rollback and learn what you can do about it at the Center for Science in the Public InterestAmerican Academy of Pediatrics, and the Pew Charitable Trusts.
  2. Food assistance programs are in danger of being weakened or cut, as indicated by The Administration’s proposed budget in May of 2017 that would have slashed USDA programs and USDA administrators reiterating common myths about SNAP. The USDA's Food and Nutrition Services administrator even penned a disturbing memo calling for  greater focus on self-sufficiency and opened comments to the public about limiting the program, despite USDA's own data that show that the vast majority of SNAP recipients who can work already do. Read more about these potential changes from Mother Jones or National Public Radio.
  3. The Administration’s delay in requiring an updated Nutrition Facts label keeps consumers in the dark about information like added sugar in the food they are buying. This rule was supposed to go into effect in July 2018, and has been delayed by an additional two years despite growing consumer concern about added sugars in their food. Read more about this delay from the Center for Science in the Public Interest and Forbes magazine.
  4. The USDA is considering increasing the speed allowed in poultry and pork packing plants. They have made comments supporting the increased speed of processing lines, which would make workers process more birds per minute in an already hazardous job environment. These breakneck speeds are unsafe for workers, increase the risk of foodborne illness, and encourage inhumane practices. Read more about this change from the Center for Science in the Public Interest, the Consumer Federation of America, and National Public Radio.
  5. The USDA has begun the process to allow chicken imported from China to be sold in the United States as having undergone “equivalent” food safety controls as poultry plants in the U.S., despite food safety advocates urging that agricultural trade agreements with China should not inappropriately influence the Food Safety Inspection Service’s objective assessment of safety. Read more about the change from the Consumer Federation of AmericaWashington Post, or National Public Radio.
  6. The FDA announced that it will disband the Food Advisory Committee, which provides scientific advice as needed on food safety and pathogens, risks to the population, and emerging hazards. This was the only advisory committee on food among the many advisory committees commissioned by FDA, which speaks poorly of the FDA’s priorities. Read more about this change from the Center for Science in the Public Interest.
  7. The USDA shifted an office working on international food safety into its trade mission area. The Agriculture Department moved the Codex Alimentarius Commission, which works with international agencies to set standards for food safety and purity, out of the Food Safety Inspection Service into the new Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs office. Outside advocates and even Food and Drug Administration officials expressed alarm at whether this new department would be able to successfully protect international standards under the direction of Undersecretary Ted McKinney, who previously worked for a veterinary pharmaceutical company. Read more about this move from the Safe Food Coalition and Politico.

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