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• The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has opened an official investigation into the presence of lead in reusable shopping bags.

The problem was originally detected in Florida, where the Tampa Tribune did an investigative piece revealing the lead contamination in bags sold by Publix and Winn-Dixie.

Winn-Dixie has pulled its bags, while Publix has said that its bags are safe, but that it would offer refunds to people concerned about the issue.

• The Food Marketing Institute (FMI) and National Grocers Association (NGA) said last week that they are “calling on the U.S. Congress to repeal the requirement that prevents consumers from using their flexible spending accounts (FSAs) to purchase over-the-counter (OTC) medicines without a prescription. This provision, enacted into law as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, removes over-the-counter (OTC) medications from the list of eligible medical expenses for reimbursement by FSAs and Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), effective January 1, 2011 ... The nation’s grocery stores request that Congress act before adjournment to reverse the provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and help the estimated 35 million working Americans who rely on voluntary contributions of pre-tax dollars to FSAs to help meet their basic health care needs, including the purchase of safe, affordable OTC medicines.”

The Hill writes that “childhood nutrition advocates say they've been promised a vote on their top priority on Dec. 1 or Dec. 2, after Congress returns from Thanksgiving recess.

“The $4.5 billion childhood nutrition bill would be considered under a closed rule, with no amendments allowed. Several House Republicans have expressed support for the bill, which cleared the Senate unanimously just before the August recess.”

The bill, according to The Hill, “expands eligibility for school meal programs; establishes nutrition standards for all foods sold in schools; and provides a 6-cent increase for each school lunch to help cafeterias serve healthier meals.”

• The Wall Street Journal reports that Johnson & Johnson is bringing its children’s Tylenol products back to store shelves some six months after the company’s OTC children’s medicines were recalled because of manufacturing issues.

According to the story, “To get parents to return to Tylenol, J&J must combat not just the hit to its reputation but also the encroachment of rival brands, which have been taking over shelf space in drugstores and promoting themselves as safe and reliable. Cheaper private-label brands are also gaining amid the tough economy as sales of branded medicines drop ... J&J must walk a messaging tightrope, marketing experts say, providing reassurance that it has fixed its problems without calling so much attention to them that safety concerns resurface.”
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