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When the government shuts down, only “essential” employees stay on the job. Apparently, that list does not include roughly half of the Food and Drug Administration. And because all of those employees have been furloughed until Congress passes a continuing budget resolution, the FDA has suspended food safety inspections.
We citizens, of course, still need to eat — which creates a potentially risky situation for all of us.
Though local and state agencies may still be on the job, there are millions of tons of food every day that enter the country for consumption. Even when the FDA is at full strength, problems slip through the cracks.
In fact, the Center for Science in the Public Interest recently came out with a report on “Ten Riskiest Foods Regulated by the U.S. FDA.” The list was compiled using statistics from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and analyzes food outbreaks and reports of illness between 1990 and 2006.
During that time, the following 10 foods — regulated by the FDA and in ascending order — were the most oft cited as causing illness.
It stands to reason that, with inspections shut down, consumers might be at an even higher risk until Congress gets its act together.
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Though taken as a whole, consumers still aren’t very likely to be victims of food poising, those with small children or compromised immune systems should be especially careful while the FDA’s inspections are shut down, and be sure to cook their food thoroughly.
Brian Stoffel is a Motley Fool contributing writer.