Advocates Challenge FDA Allowance of Toxic Chemical in Food

Public health advocates used a little-known legal tool today to challenge a recent FDA move allowing a toxic chemical in food packaging, writes the advocacy group Environmental Defense Fund. The groups filed an objection to FDA’s decision to continue to allow perchlorate in dry food packaging. They also requested a formal evidentiary public hearing to secure an independent judgment of the agency’s decision. “Children get one chance at a healthy brain and the FDA’s decision puts that at risk,” said Tom Neltner, Chemicals Policy Director at EDF. “The food supply is already extensively contaminated with perchlorate, and exposure is going up for young children.”

EpiPen: “Do what’s right, not what’s easy”?

After the national outrage over EpiPen’s increase of the price of a box epinephrine injections to $609 last August, Mylan, the manufacturer, promised to live up to its motto of doing what’s right, not what’s easy.  But, writes Charles Duhigg in The New York Times, last week regulators said the company had most likely overcharged Medicaid by $1.27 billion for EpiPens and the retail price of a box was still $609. The device contains about $1 of the drug epinephrine.

8 Ways to Move the Food Movement Forward in the Age of Trump

Linking food to other issues and campaigns can amplify the power of food and other movements and increase the chances of winning meaningful victories. Photo: 2017 People’s Climate March. Credit: Mark Dixon.

In the four months since Trump took office, write Nicholas Freudenberg and Mark Bittman in Civil Eats, many of our fears have come true. Spiking deportation activities have scared farmworkers out of the fields and broken up families across the country. The threats to repeal the Affordable Care Act are closer to reality, putting farmers, rural communities, and tens of millions of others at risk of losing their health care. An executive order that claims to promote rural prosperity instead focuses on repealing ag regulations that protect farmworkers, farm communities, and food safety. And, across the board, Trump’s proposed budget would decimate funding to help make healthy, affordable food more available to everyone, especially those already at highest risk of food insecurity and diet-related diseases.

The only silver lining has been the loud, sustained resistance to these devastating policies. Even as this administration works to turn back the progress the food justice movement has made in the past 20 years, many are standing strong and pushing back.

Big Pharma by the Numbers

A recent article in The New York Times provided insights into the pharmaceutical industry’s efforts to ensure that any new policies to lower drug prices would not hurt their profits.

In the first quarter of this year, the pharmaceutical and health products industry spent $78 million on lobbying, 14% more than in the same period last year.

In the 2016 election cycle, the industry contributed more than $58 million to the election campaigns of members of Congress and presidential candidates, a 20% jump from the 2012 cycle

The industry pays 1,100 lobbyists, more than two for each member of Congress.

Last year Representative John Shimkus, Republican from Illinois, helped persuade the Obama Administration to kill a project that would have lowered drug prices in Medicare Part B, which spent $24.6 billion on prescription drugs in 2015. In the last election cycle, Shimkus received $300,00 in drug industry contributions.

He’s a danger to the gun industry. Here’s why.

Gary Wintemute doesn’t look like a slayer of gunslingers, writes the Sacramento Bee in a profile of one of the nation’s leading researchers on the gun industry. He’s a bespectacled professor of 65, and speaks in the measured tones of the scientist he is. But for the gun industry, he may be the most dangerous scientist in America, more so starting on July 1.  That’s when the University of California will release the first of $5 million to fund the UC Davis Firearms Violence Research Center, located in an unmarked building on Stockton Avenue, across from the UC Davis Medical Center.

Open Letter to WHO-Director General on Industrial Animal Farming

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Unprecedented and rising levels of industrial animal farming are undermining the highest attainable standard of health that is WHO’s mandate. During the 2016 World Health Assembly, Director-General Margaret Chan highlighted climate change, antibiotic resistance, and chronic diseases as “slow-motion disasters.” However, their fundamental link to industrial animal farming has continued to be disregarded.  A group of scientists and advocates have written an Open Letter to  the new Director General of the World Health Organization that describes industrial animal farming as a serious global health challenge. The letter makes the case that while the consumption of meat and other animal products is part of most cultures, large-scale industrial animal farming has gone beyond satisfying dietary needs and cultural practices. The extent to which we now produce and consume animal products is harming our health.

New York City to Trump: You go low, we go local

The Trump Administration has postponed implementation of the Food and Drug Administration’s menu labeling rules, but New York City is moving ahead with its own set of rules, reports Convenience Store News.  On May 18, Mayor Bill de Blasio said that all city chain food retailers offering prepared foods, or “restaurant-type foods,” will be required to post calorie counts on menu boards. In addition, chain restaurants and retailers will be required to have full nutritional information — not just calories — for standard menu items available on site, and they will have to post a statement about the daily recommended caloric intake of 2,000 calories.

Tracking the Effects of Corporate Practices on Health