While our government is in the partial shutdown mode, some of our primary government agencies and services are either closed or are semi-closed. When they can’t function, we are affected. A few of the agency and service shutdowns may not put a damper on your day, at least that you know of. Some branches of the government provides services that we don’t notice everyday, but we feel better knowing they are there.
All active duty military are to remain on the job. Obama and the House, plus the Senate signed a bill that would ensure our military workers will get paid during the shutdown.
While the military members who are in an active status get paid, the government shutdown leaves us wondering about safety measures in the civilian sector of our nation. Safety of our food and products is a large concern. Unfortunately, one of the vital services to help protect our food has been shutdown. The Food and Drug Administration has been closed.
What does this mean? Our food, especially the food that has crossed state lines, does not get inspected for bacteria that may cause E-coli and salmonella poisoning.
The FDA inspectors have been furloughed through the week of the shutdown. If the government doesn’t raise the debt ceiling by the time given as a deadline, the FDA will remain closed. This can be problematic due to the lack of inspections of our food and because of the lack of import inspections. The FDA isn’t the only aspect of the food safety checks that are closed. The safety inspectors at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are closed as well.
Because of the shutdown, our fruits, vegetables, seafood and other products are not being checked for safety assurance. The FDA maintains a list of those companies who aren’t good at sending through quality items and have had safety issues in the past and yet, without the FDA, nobody is checking that database or keeping track of previous offenses during the shutdown.
At this time, anyone with a bad track record of shipping or producing bad quality items can get the product shipped out without a problem. Sticking with organic foods may be the way to go until the government can settle one way or another. At least those farmers and food-producing companies that offer organic products have a conscious in the way they deliver quality products.
According to www.thehill.com, the House will be voting in the next few days to fund the FDA again and keep it funded until the government shutdown is over, one way or another.
The vote will be over a measure that is being sent to the House that will include concerns over risks to food and drug safety from the lack of oversight at the agency.
Almost half of the employees that work for the FDA are furloughed, meaning the research programs and compliance and the enforcement of rules to keep food safe for the public’s consumption have halted.
Caroline Smith DeWaal, the Director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest stated:
An outbreak may already be happening but without the skills of federal public health investigators, it could continue without an appropriate public health response.
Without the regular inspections for food safety during the shutdown, DeWaal says it means that some of the outbreaks will never be investigated and solved, while others may be taken care of days or weeks later. With any delay in inspections, consumers may be sick from undiscovered contaminated food.
Our environment may take a hard blow due to the shutdown as well as our food. About 95% of the employees working for the Environmental Protection Agency have been released and about the same number of employees through the Consumer Product Safety commission are not coming in to work during this shutdown.
President Obama has pledged to piece together measures to help fund these much-needed services. The White House released a statement earlier this week regarding all of the shutdown programs:
Instead of opening up a few government functions, the House of Representatives should re-open all of the government.