By: John Verlinden*/TRT Columnist—
Thank goodness the federal government is up and running again, and for the time being at least, we can watch a TV program without being reminded by the little clock in the corner of our screen that the nation is ticking down to financial Armageddon. While I certainly don’t agree with everything it does, or approve of how all of our taxes get spent, we need government workers. Things can break down pretty quickly when we send all the scientists, social workers, inspectors, and regulators home, especially when it comes to our food.
During the crisis, cameras were focused on veterans being unable to visit shuttered national monuments, and talking heads debated doomsday scenarios of debt default. However, the stories that got my attention were the ones involving food safety and security. Response to a multidrug resistant salmonella outbreak in the western United States was delayed because Center for Disease Control (CDC) physicians and scientists weren’t on the job. Many fruit, vegetable and imported processed food inspections were suspended because U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) inspectors who do this work were deemed “non-essential.” We also faced potential interruptions to vital programs that prevent hunger in this country, such as Women, Infants and Children (WIC), Food Stamps, Meals on Wheels and more because the funding for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service was running low.
Call me old-fashioned and sentimental, but even in this era of limited government, I kind of like the idea of food inspections, rapid response to deadly food-borne illnesses, and a safety net for my neighbors who can’t afford to eat. Please, Washington, if we must go through this again next year, can we at least not put our food supply at risk?
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Until next time – ¡Mucho Gusto!, ¡Muchas Gracias! y ¡Buen Provecho!