FDA on Friday announced steps it's taking to reduce the presence of arsenic, lead, and other toxins in foods for babies and toddlers, after a House subcommittee report found major baby food companies sold products that internal testing showed had toxin levels higher than what most health experts deem safe, in today's bite-sized hospital and health industry news from California, Maryland, and Tennessee.
- California: California on Friday eased guidelines for reopening outdoor venues, allowing concert stadiums, sports arenas, and theme parks—such as Disneyland and Universal Studios Hollywood—to reopen with limited capacity beginning April 1. Under the guidelines, capacity levels will be determined by county-level transmission rates of the novel coronavirus. For instance, in counties where transmission is widespread, outdoor sports and live performances will be capped at 100 people, all of whom must live in the region. However, people will be required to wear masks and follow other precautions intended to curb the coronavirus's spread at all venues (Beam/Ronayne, Associated Press, 3/6; Jones, NPR, 3/5).
- Maryland: FDA on Friday announced steps it's taking to reduce the presence of arsenic, lead, and other toxins in foods for babies and toddlers. FDA said it plans to increase inspections, issue guidance on the maximum contaminant levels in commercial food for babies and toddlers, finalize guidance on reducing inorganic arsenic in apple juice, and publish draft guidance on maximum lead levels in juice, among other actions. The announcement came a month after a House Oversight subcommittee report released last month found major baby food companies sold products that internal testing showed had toxin levels higher than what most health experts deem safe. In response to FDA's announcement, members of Congress and advocacy groups voiced concerns about the agency not going far enough and being vague about the actions it would take regarding inspections and legal limits for toxins in baby and toddler food (Evich, Politico, 3/5; Reiley, Washington Post, 3/5).
- Tennessee: Ballad Health last week announced that it will invest $60 million in a new pediatric care network called the Ballad Health Niswonger Children's Network. The network will serve northeast Tennessee and southwest Virginia and will include two pediatric centers—the Center for Perinatal and Neonatal Care as well as the Center for Pediatric Specialties, both of which will be located at Niswonger Children's Hospital. The investment also includes a two-story expansion of the hospital, a renovation of its neonatal intensive care unit, and a new pediatric ED at Indian Path Community Hospital (Haefner, Becker's Hospital Review, 3/5).