Don’t Eat the Shrimp!

(Update 10/8, 9PM)

Or think twice … thanks to the government closure.

From GovExec, “90 Percent of Seafood Imports Go Uninspected Due to Shutdown”:

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.

20 thoughts on “Don’t Eat the Shrimp!

  1. Bruce

    Most Americans eat shrimp that is so processed or deep fried as to be indistinguishable from breaded rubber. If any organism can withstand that, they ought to be on the list of biological warfare agents.
    The government (?) “shoutdown” between the Demon-crazies and Republi-CONs is the real terrorist threat to the country.
    Send them all to Gitmo for a vacation on the taxpayer for the remainder of the House term.
    ‘Tro da bums out to Gitmo.

  2. Menzie Chinn

    Bruce: If what you say were true, why do we bother inspecting incoming food? What about those of us who like a shrimp cocktail? And in any case, deep frying won’t eliminate antibiotics or toxins that might have contaminated the shrimp.

  3. Bruce

    Menzie: “If what you say were true, why do we bother inspecting incoming food? What about those of us who like a shrimp cocktail?”
    I like shrimp cocktail, sushi, and ceviche, so I’m with you.
    It would be interesting to know what pct. of consumers become ill each year even with inspections, and then construct a probability matrix of the most susceptible foods to determine the probability of a sampling of the uninspected food being contaminated in such a way as to cause someone to become ill or worse.
    I suspect the probability is quite low, but I don’t have the data, nor do I know what the gov’t standard is.

  4. Joseph

    Let the libertarian free market do its wonders. We don’t need regulators. The people who die due to tainted food won’t buy more food from the bad suppliers allowing the good suppliers to flourish.
    And Hep A, that’s only a problem for those “who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe that government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care,” as a famous candidate once said. Hep A is entirely preventable for those who take responsibility for their own lives and get vaccinated — on their own dime, of course, because self-insurance is the only real insurance.

  5. Brian Albrecht

    I really wish we would be able to get data on this. How many more people get sick from shrimp or all food during this time-frame?
    Even if sickness does not increase, it does not mean that no regulation does not protect people since there are issues with expectations during a temporary reduction in spending. But it will be interesting to try and find evidence.

  6. jonathan

    There is a data point already: there’s a big chicken-related salmonella outbreak that’s hit 18 states, mostly CA. The Food Safety and Inspection Service issued a warning but apparently can’t do much updating and can’t investigate. The CDC has said they will not investigate multi-state outbreaks while closed.

  7. Menzie Chinn

    Anonymous (10:45AM): Hmm, commenter uses ALL CAPS. Second, has written in the past “The CBO is NEVER EVER right.” (thankfully only partially in ALL CAPS). I think I know where to file this attempt at sarcasm.

  8. Bruce
    Peak Oil, population overshoot, resource depletion, pollution, waste production, climate change, and loss of arable land, watersheds, and aquifers are pushing us towards a time in the not-too-distant future during which insect-based “Soylent” will likely be the only choice of sustenance for the vast majority of us, and “food” inspectors will work only for the privileged top 0.01-0.1% luxuriating in their Elysium-like enclaves far removed from the concerns of the rest of us.

  9. Ricardo

    The administration is working its scare-tactic propaganda machine overtime. One might ask why? My suspecion is that if the shutdown continues for very long like the draconian claims concerning sequestration, people will find out that actually we get along pretty good without the government. Consider that if the government actually shutdown we could visit the Grand Canyon, we could see Mt. Rushmore, and the WWII and vietnam vets could visit their memorial. And there would be no debate over the debt ceiling! LOL!

  10. Vangel

    I like shrimp cocktail, sushi, and ceviche, so I’m with you.
    Do you mean to tell me that the stores that I buy my shrimp from can’t figure out if what they are buying is any good? Or that they will put bad shrimp out and risk losing their customers to their competitors.
    Or do you mean to tell me that government inspectors are better than they are?
    Sorry but I do not see why we need an incompetent government to protect us when markets are far better at doing the job. It is time to stop the ‘state is there to protect us’ myth and to start seeing things as they are. The big government experiment has been tried and has failed miserably. It is time that individuals took steps to protect themselves from the predatory state by simply ignoring it and opting out as much as they can.

  11. vangel is baffling

    do you even know the history of why we have food inspectors? your lack of knowledge is baffling. i remember learning about this stuff in middle school. as long as you are not the guinea pig who tries the food first, you are a big talker. go load up on shrimp for the next month!
    why do you always think the private sector is better. last time i checked, citizens make up the private sector and public sector. these are just the same human beings, subject to the same fallacies and successes. you simply have the grass is always greener syndrome, and are not even aware of it. private sector employees makes just as many mistakes as public sector employees. how often have you complained about your incompetent boss?

  12. Ricardo

    How often have you seen the UL Certification Mark on electronic equipment. Most believe this is a government inspection but actually it is done by a private company that has been in service since 1894.
    How often have you heard that UL did not do its job? How often have you heard of tainted strawberries, or chicken, or hamburger, or tomatoes, or on and on and on? So who has the better record, inspection by the free market private companies paid by the manufacturers or government agencies?
    The problem is with all the money the government spends on functions and services that the private sector can do better and more efficiently.
    But government agencies know that the private sector can do the job better and they is why they make sure laws are passed so they do not have any competition. Then they can claim they are the best because they are the only game in town.
    The same technique is being used to force the American people onto Obamacare. Obamacare cannot compete against market based health care. That has become more and more obvious every day as the Progressives fail to fulfull the law. That is why Obamacare requires forced compliance. The Progressive goal is for Obamacare to be the only game in town.

  13. Jim

    Ricardo: Moody’s and S&P are non-government rating services too. Care to buy a mortgage backed security?
    The argument for government inspections/ratings is that the government supposedly is not susceptible to influence and the grab for short term profit. Presumably the government entirely has the best interest of citizens in mind while the private sector is concerned about its customers (consumers? producers?) and its stockholders (profit.)
    That said, I would prefer my shrimp inspected by someone with my best interests foremost in their agenda.

  14. ricardo is baffling

    last time i checked, i couldn’t eat my UL certified boom box and die from Salmonella food poisoning. your comparison between daily food inspections for health and a private lab’s certification of devices is ridiculus!
    your comments regarding obamacare indicate you do not even understand what it is! obamacare forces people into the private medical insurance business. this funds private business! it simply enforces some rules so you cannot discriminate. this is how insurance works. if you allow cherry picking of clients, insurance really is not insurance. and if the government can force you to have auto insurance, a precedent is set.
    as i’ve asked you in the past, do you have health insurance? then why are you against somebody else obtaining affordable health insurance? why do you hate those people?

  15. tew

    There is something fundamentally wrong with the food system if we have mass food poisonings if the government isn’t monitoring everything every day.

  16. Johnny Kay

    Is there something “fundamentally wrong” with a society if disbanding the police and criminal justice system were to lead to burglaries and other crime?
    Way of the world, brother! Gotta have government one way or the other…

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