Food-borne illnesses

USDA halts deadly experiments on kittens for food safety research

A Kitten
Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

The Agriculture Department said Tuesday that the agency will cease its controversial practice of infecting kittens with the Toxoplasma gondii parasite for laboratory research to combat foodborne illness.

The backdrop: Bipartisan legislation was introduced in Congress last month to end the agency's practice. The department’s Agricultural Research Service has been using this practice to study the parasite it says is the leading cause of death from foodborne illness in the U.S. NBC News reported that since 1982, the agency had also been feeding cats with dog and cat remains obtained from "Asian meat markets." The USDA said it hasn’t infected any kittens in its facilities since last September, and the cats that were never infected will be available for adoption.

Food allergies more common among adults in the U.S.

Illustration of a grocery bag with warning labels for milk, sesame, eggs, wheat, and shellfish.
Illustration:Aïda Amer/Axios

Groundbreaking new research has found that nearly 11% of U.S. adults have a food allergy, more than many expected, with a substantial number acquiring the allergies as adults.

Why it matters: Allergies force major accommodations to protect the vulnerable. This is a problem you'd expect to lessen with modern medicine, but it seems to be getting worse.