(Update 10/8, 9PM)
Or think twice … thanks to the government closure.
Thanks to the shutdown, food safety inspectors at the Food and Drug Administration, which monitors 80 percent of the U.S.’ food supply, are on furlough until the budget gets passed, as Food Safety News reports.
That means the FDA isn’t carrying out some of its most critical responsibilities. First is the FDA’s oversight of food imports. The furlough means more than 90 percent of the foreign seafood Americans eat is coming through unchecked, as well as half the fruit and one-fifth of the vegetables.
One of the big ways the FDA protects consumers is by blocking shipments from companies with a history of tainted foods, monitoring them through what it calls ”red alerts.” These include categories like filthiness (meaning excrement),fruits covered in pesticides, drug-doped seafood, dairy products with melamine, dietary supplements that might have mad cow disease, e. coli-containing seafood and candy laced with lead.
The story continues with the example of shrimp, of which Americans eat 4.2 pounds per year per person. You definitely don’t want to read the rest of the story if you like shrimp.
Hard times for those who like a good Moo Shu shrimp. Or a shrimp cocktail.
(I must confess, the above is not as scary as this).
Update, 10/8, 9pm Pacific: From Politico, “Government shutdown worst-case scenario realized: Salmonella outbreak”:
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which is operating with about one-third of its staff on the job during the shutdown, confirmed Tuesday that it has now brought back 30 furloughed employees in its foodborne division to help handle the outbreak, which has sickened 278 people in 18 states.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service — which is operating with 87 percent of its staff during the shutdown — issued a public health alert Monday evening saying that raw chicken products produced by three Foster Farms facilities in California are the likely source of the outbreak. However, no recall has been ordered because health officials say they don’t have enough information to name the specific products.
What’s most concerning about the outbreak is that it involves seven strains of Salmonella Heidelberg that are resistant to antibiotics typically used to treat the illness, Barbara Reynolds, spokeswoman for the agency, told POLITICO. Of those sickened, 76 people have been hospitalized — an usually high rate.
The outbreak is exactly what food safety advocates and several lawmakers earlier feared.