CSPI to Speaker Boehner: Food Safety More Pressing than Demands of House Extremists
Statement of CSPI Food Safety Director Caroline Smith DeWaal
Both the Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture have developed thoughtful plans to continue some basic food safety functions in the event of a federal government shutdown. But make no mistake: the safety of our food supply will suffer if agreement is not reached on a continuing resolution that funds the government.
FDA will be unable to support the majority of its food safety activities, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. It won't carry out routine establishment inspections and will cease some compliance and enforcement activities, and some monitoring of imports. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will be unable to support outbreak detection and infectious disease surveillance. USDA will continue inspection of meat, poultry, and egg products but will be furloughing more than 1,200 employees in other parts of the Food Safety and Inspection Service. Despite the agencies' planning, a government shutdown will make it easier for contaminated food to slip through to consumers and will make it harder for the federal government to identify and respond to outbreaks.
Speaker Boehner should not let food safety and other vital government functions be held hostage just because an extreme faction in his caucus opposes the health care reform law. The government's food safety functions are far more pressing than the unrealistic demands being made by petulant extremists in the House.