Food poisoning outbreaks, chemical explosions, seafood inspections -- none of these will be effectively addressed by the federal government during the ongoing shutdown. Some people are starting to ask if public health and safety are at risk.
"Over at Wired, Maryn McKenna reports on a major outbreak of the foodborne illness salmonella. So far, 278 people in 18 states have been sickened with the pathogen, which causes fever, cramps, diarrhea, and in severe cases, even death. In a press release the USDA identified the source of the outbreak as contaminated raw chicken from a producer called Foster Farms and said that the products were sold at supermarkets in Washington State, Oregon, and California. As of 11:30 AM EDT Tuesday, Foster Farms had a note up saying, 'No recall is in effect. Products are safe to consume if properly handled and fully cooked.' Foster Farms' chicken was linked to another salmonella outbreak—134 illnesses in 13 states—in July, the CDC reported.
Usually when there's an outbreak of this scale, the CDC mobilizes to pinpoint the source of the contaminated food. However, McKenna explains that the shutdown 'means that the lab work and molecular detection that can link far-apart cases and define the size and seriousness of outbreaks are not happening.' Individual states can use their own resources to trace the outbreak, but so far it looks like they won't be able to use the federal government's databases."