Thinly sliced: Coffee is safe (again), SNAP enrollment reaches eight-year low, and more
This is the web version of a list we publish twice-weekly in our newsletter. It comprises the most noteworthy food stories of the moment, selected by our editors. Get it first here.
Farewell, trans fats! As of Monday, artificial trans fats—which the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) deemed “unsafe to eat” in 2015—are now officially banned in U.S. restaurants and grocery stores, The Washington Post reports. Some claim that the move will save “tens of thousands of lives” by preventing incidence of heart disease, diabetes, and dementia among other illnesses. One could certainly call it transformative.
Don’t worry, drink coffee. Back in April, a California judge ruled that coffee should carry the state’s Proposition 65 warning—thanks to the presence of acrylamide, a substance “known to the state to cause cancer.” (Here’s what we had to say about that.) But the state’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment moved on Friday to nullify that decision, The Guardian reports. That’s following the agency’s review of more than 1,000 studies published by the World Health Organization (WHO) this week, which found inadequate evidence that coffee is carcinogenic. Now we can all go back to enjoying our coffee in peace. (Not that a label would have stopped us anyway.)
SNAP out of it. The number of people enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) has reached an eight-year low, Farm Bureau reports. Trends show that, as you might expect, enrollment rates peaked during periods of economic decline and gradually decreased alongside a fall in unemployment rates.
Seltzertopia. By now, we’ve all heard America’s in the middle of a seltzer renaissance—that’s old news. What’s less old? Amazon and Whole Foods are cashing in on our carbonation habit with an aggressive new promotion strategy, Quartz reports. 12-packs of 365-branded soda water, currently priced at $3.99—an entire two bucks cheaper than crowd-favorite LaCroix—come buy-one-get-one-free for Bay Area shoppers willing to download the Whole Foods app and sign in as a Prime member. We all know what they’re hoping: that anyone will part with pamplemousse for the right price.
Stymying styrofoam. Last week, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a ban on products containing Expanded Polystyrene (EPS), which includes things like single-use styrofoam products and packing peanuts. De Blasio describes the ban, which will kick off on January 1, 2019, as “long overdue”—saying, in a city press release, that “New Yorkers are ready to start using recyclable alternatives.” Unless they apply for a hardship exemption from the Department of Small Business Services, businesses still using EPS products after a six-month grace period will be fined by the city. Time to kick those last foam clamshells to the curb.
Fast friends. Just over a month ago, an interfaith coalition of religious leaders on Staten Island went hungry for 24 hours to rally their Republican Representative Dan Donovan to vote against the House farm bill. The House’s very contentious version of the bill included strict work requirements for SNAP users. Donovan ended up voting for the bill, but it failed nonetheless. Now, the bill is back for another vote on Friday. In anticipation of that, the interfaith coalition is launching another fast beginning Tuesday night, this time for 72 hours.