Government Shutdown Halts Fda Food Inspections. Should You Worry?

Woodward/The Washington Post.) A food-aid program for poor women and children may have more life in it during the federal government shutdown than initially expected. On Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture provided further guidance to state agencies on funding available for the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC). And it suggests that some resources will be immediately available to states. The upshot is that many states should be able to keep their WIC programs open through October using federal funds and possibly even longer using states funds, Zoe Neuberger, a senior policy analyst with the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, said in an e-mail about the updated guidance. WIC provides states with grants for food aid, health care referrals and nutrition education for low-income women and children. When the USDA first issued guidance late last week, WIC seemed vulnerable even in a short-term shutdown. States would be able to borrow funds from some sources to keep the program running for a week or so, according to that earlier guidance, but they would likely be unable to sustain operations for a longer period. Even contingency funds werent likely to be enough to get them through October, USDA predicted. Tuesdays guidance doesnt make such predictions, but it elaborated on the available options, including carrying over funds from the fiscal year that ended on Monday or tapping a federal contingency fund. While thats good news for some programs, theres still a lot of variation among the states. Theres no question that its a smart move on their part, but its not a guarantee overall, said Geraldine Henchy, director of nutrition policy for the Food Research Action Center. Apportioning WIC funding is notoriously difficult, she notes.In Utah,all WIC clinics are closed and new WIC appointments have been canceled. Whereas Arkansas negotiated with the USDA to receive contingency WIC funding for program administration and food vouchers for this week. That arrangement will be revisited weekly through the end of the month, according to a state health department spokesman.

(+video) The government shutdown means the FDA has furloughed 45 percent of its workers, and the agency’s routine food inspections have been put on hold. Experts warn that even a short government shutdown could be a lasting problem for the already underfunded FDA. By Schuyler Velasco ,Staff writer / October 3, 2013 Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington last year. The government shutdown means 45 percent of FDA’s workers are furloughed, putting most of the agency’s routine food safety inspections on hold. Susan Walsh/AP/File Enlarge When it comes to the government shutdown, there are plenty of things to feel gloomy and alarmed over. One of the more attention-getting work stoppages so far has been at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), where 45 percent of employees have been sent home and many of the agencys day-to-day activities, most notably food safety inspections, are on hold until the budget impasse is over. The Christian Science Monitor Weekly Digital Edition So, 91 percent of seafood that Americans consume, which the United States imports, is not being inspected, currently. The same goes for the nearly 50 percent of fruits and 20 percent of vegetables consumed in the US but imported from abroad. And though many of inspections here in the US are still being carried out through state and local agencies, reporting any problems encountered at the federal level could be difficult. Detection [of problems] wont be the issue,” says Neal Hooker, a professor of food policy at the John Glenn School of Public Affairs at Ohio State University in Columbus.Management of, say, a product recall, and helping local public-health agencies work more effectively, those parts will be harder to do. The government shutdown has closed down a large part of the FDA, and its food monitoring activities in particular. FDA will be unable to support the majority of its food safety, nutrition, and cosmetics activities, reads a Health and Human Services memo detailing a contingency plan in the case of a government funding stoppage. FDA will also have to cease safety activities such as routine establishment inspections, some compliance and enforcement activities, monitoring of imports, notification programs, and the majority of the laboratory research necessary to inform public health decision-making. RECOMMENDED: Government shutdown quiz The FDA will maintain certain emergency services during the shutdown, including managing high-risk food recalls and other critical public health issues, per the memo. But the lack of routine health inspections, and the management oversight of more routine food supply hiccups that the FDA deals with on a day-to-day basis begs two questions: Is the countrys food supply safe without the FDA, and will its temporary shuttering have any lasting effect beyond the government shutdown? Food-safety advocates worry that even a short-term lapse in the FDAs activities could be a notable setback for the agency. The FDA, in partnership with the states, inspects about 80 facilities a day, and theyre not sending people to do those routine inspections, says Caroline Smith DeWaal , the food safety director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a nonprofit consumer advocacy group based in Washington.

Looking At Too Many Food Pictures Could Ruin Meal Enjoyment, Study Finds

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