Food Safety During the Government Shutdown

January 29, 2019

As the government shutdown reaches its fifth week, the tension through the United States grow to an all time high. This being the longest shutdown in American history the public may wonder how this will start to affect their everyday lives. Federal workers are not being paid to do their jobs, resulting in a lack of workers showing up to keep everything in balance. Everyday people’s lives and especially government workers lives, are in a toss up with no known outcome.

Many areas of the federal government are falling behind, but the public is only now discovering the one that impacts everyone on a day to day basis. The FDA, Food and Drug Administration, has a dwindling number of inspectors out on the field making sure food is up to par. This means not as many inspectors are looking for salmonella in breakfast cereal, E. coli in romaine lettuce, or listeria in ice cream.

There’s no question of whether it’s business as usual at FDA.”

— FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb

Although companies can check themselves, the FDA is still announcing recalls for products. “There’s no question of whether it’s business as usual at FDA,” FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb told NBC News. “It’s not business as usual, and we are not doing all the things we would do under normal circumstances. There are important things we are not doing.” However, the fear is not reciprocated throughout all the experts. Some, such as professor at the University of Vermont and expert on the microbiological safety of food Catherine Donnelly, believe there is no need for panic. “The FDA made it really clear that the responsibility for food safety lies with the companies,” she told CNN News “Consumers should continue to have confidence in those brand names that they trust and the willingness of companies to do the right thing in providing them with safe food.”

Along with food safety, food benefits that give a hand to low income families are at a halt. Programs such as WIC (Woman, Infants, and Children) as well as EBT food stamps have given out February’s benefits in the month of January. After the 31st of January these government programs will be halted.

Throughout social media, posts have circulated warning recipients of government assistance to spend their money wisely and ration as much as possible.

With this being a record breaking length for a shutdown, federal workers across the nation have not had any incoming flow of money, flooding food banks and shelters as a last resort. Struggling to pay for food, rent, and medical needs. Eviction notices are just now starting to be nailed to their doors.

According to CNBC, around 800,000 workers are in a state of financial uncertainty. 420,000 of them are what is considered “essential” workers and are still obligated to go to work without pay. The rest of the 380,000 must stay home and wait out the shutdown.

As of now, neither side has made an offer to negotiate and the shutdown is at a standstill. Federal workers and everyday people alike hold their breaths to watch the next move either the president or congress make.

 

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