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“We all have to eat, which may explain why food safety protections have such broad public support. No elected representative wants to stand for subjecting more children, elderly people and other vulnerable populations to serious foodborne illness. Yet, the current government shutdown seems likely to have that effect.
Two agencies — the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) — share primary responsibility for ensuring the safety of the U.S. food supply. The shutdown affects both of them in serious ways.
At FDA, shutdown plans called for furloughing 41 percent of the agency’s 17,397 employees. But that number is misleading, because food safety is affected differently than other activities at the agency. The approval of new medical products and other “user fee” supported tasks at FDA are effectively immune to the shutdown. FDA’s food safety division, however, is almost entirely supported by appropriations. As a result, the regulators charged with ensuring the safety of 75 percent of the food supply have mostly been sent home.
One particularly tangible impact of FDA’s funding lapse is the suspension of routine inspections. That cop is no longer on the beat; the inspectors are furloughed. Maybe they would not have found any violations at the plants they were scheduled to visit. Maybe the plants would not have made any corrections to reduce foodborne illness risk and prevent someone’s child from ending up in the hospital. We may never know, but this state of affairs raises grave concerns unless you think food facility inspections are pointless.”
JJ Editor's Picks
"Let’s hope the February meeting does not occur. Trump had been successful through the middle of May of last year when he was pressuring—but not talking to—the North Koreans."
"...taking seriously Dr. King’s critique of Northern liberalism means also calling out liberal public officials and residents who profess commitments to equality yet maintain a corrupt criminal justice system and a segregated school system."
"There are now three “states” involved in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: Hamas in Gaza, the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, and Israel. Any attempt to move the peace process forward must account for this reality."
"In director Chris Smith's new Netflix documentary, Fyre – about the "elephant of a clusterf--k" that Fyre Festival actually became – we see footage of tech entrepreneur and Fyre founder Billy McFarland telling a bunch of the world's biggest supermo"
"The government shutdown flooded folks with fear. Yet it shouldn’t. The aftermath of shutdowns is also great, with U.S. stocks averaging 12.8 percent in the next 12 months."
"Channel surfing feels futile, if not obsolete. TV is no longer a remote-controlled menu to peruse as much as it’s a Tube Goldberg machine carrying our eyes from one diversion to the next."
"Natalie Wynn, the creator of the comico-philosophical YouTube channel ContraPoints, wanted to make a video that was both more trenchant and entertaining than the others. "
"Fukuyama’s new book does contain a thesis. As it happens, the new idea stands in the sharpest possible contrast to the older one. Liberal democracy, far from showing us a glimpse of a universalist future, now, we are told, faces a severe crisis. "
"...the FDA's newfound sense of urgency regarding teen e-cigarette use is overdue. Beyond the nicotine in e-cigarettes, there are other less well-understood chemical threats like diacetyl..."
"Vegetable-themed snacks like cauliflower puffs and Peatos aren’t traditional potato chips, but they’re not not chips, either."
"Homo erectus was in the news over 2018 thanks to new discoveries in the Philippines and China, which have transformed our understanding of this not too distant family member."
"I am Jewish and queer. But neither of these identities managed to make an impact on the co-chairs of the Women’s March as I begged them, again and again, to take my pain seriously."