As we come up on the end of Week 3 of the Trump shutdown, please keep in mind that FDA food inspections aren't considered government-essential services and right now most food is not being inspected at all, so hey, I hope you haven't eaten anything in January.
The furloughing of hundreds of Food and Drug Administration inspectors has sharply reduced inspections of the nation’s food supply — one of the many repercussions of the partial government shutdown that are making Americans potentially less safe.
The agency, which oversees 80 percent of the food supply, has suspended all routine inspections of domestic food-processing facilities, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in an interview. He is working on a plan to bring inspectors back as early as next week to inspect facilities considered high-risk because they handle sensitive items such as seafood, soft cheese and vegetables, or have a history of problems.
“We are doing what we can to mitigate any risk to consumers through the shutdown,” Gottlieb said.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest, a nonprofit advocacy group, described the inspection reductions as unacceptable.
“That puts our food supply at risk,” said Sarah Sorscher, deputy director of regulatory affairs at the group. “Regular inspections, which help stop foodborne illness before people get sick, are vital.”
Foodborne illnesses are a major problem in the United States, sickening 48 million people each year and killing 3,000, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates.
Food inspections are just one of the public health and safety efforts that have been cut or curtailed during the shutdown, now deep into its third week. The federal government also keeps airplanes from colliding, inspects pharmaceutical drugs, pursues criminals and defends against possible terrorist and cyberattacks. It is a 24-7-365 effort to make Americans safer.
But a shutdown upends the calculus of risk management as agencies including the FBI, Coast Guard, Secret Service, FDA, Federal Aviation Administration and Agriculture Department face drastically reduced resources.
Again, Trump thinks this is a hostage situation where he can win by making Democrats fold through attrition, and once again the cruelty is the point. A national outbreak of E. coli or the FAA shutting down all flights because of downed systems will start getting people's attention, I guess.
Worth noting that a government already wrecked when it was operation is now broken, and even if people got back to work tomorrow, it would be quite some time before we got back to even nominal 2018 levels of Trump regime "broken on purpose" government-run disaster.