Government Shutdown Halts Fda Food Inspections. Should You Worry?

The business-lunch crowd invariably knows the best place for an affordable fill-the-tank bite. McEurope: Fast-food restaurants are everywhere. Yes, the hamburgerization of the world is a shame, but face it – the busiest and biggest McDonald’s in the world are in Paris, Rome and Moscow. American fast food has gone global. You’ll find KFC and Subway in every language – it isn’t exciting (and costs more than at home), but at least you know exactly what you’re getting, and it’s fast. They’re also kid-friendly and satisfy the need for a cheap salad bar and a tall orange juice. They’ve grabbed prime bits of real estate in every big European city, providing a cheap seat (with no cover charge) and an opportunity to savor a low-class paper cup of coffee while enjoying high-class people-watching. Many offer free Wi-Fi as well. Each country has its equivalent of the hamburger stand; I saw a McCheaper in Switzerland. You might say to yourself, “I didn’t travel all the way to Venice to eat in a McDonalds,” but consider fast food as comfort food – something fun halfway through your trip. Street food: Every country has a cheap specialty that’s sold at take-out stands or shops, where you can grab a filling bite on the go – French creperies, Greek souvlaki stands, Danish polse (sausage) vendors, Italian pizza rustica takeout shops, Dutch herring carts, British fish-and-chip shops, and Turkish-style kebab and falafel kiosks.

World Food Prices Continue to Decline on Cheaper Cereal

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. She notes that individual state agencies, which actually conduct a large portion of inspections, will continue operating, but its unclear how long they can go on without federal oversight and the fees the FDA pays such agencies to conduct inspections on its behalf. The inspections themselves arent the biggest issue, says Dr. Hooker. Its not that every plant is expecting to have a visit, in the immediate future, he notes; depending on the type of food facility, some establishments are inspected as infrequently as every three to five years. Youre reducing the probability of an inspection by such a tiny number.

Global cereal production, which includes wheat and corn, is expected to be 8% higher over 2012s level, at 2.49 billion tons. The U.S., the worlds largest corn producer, is responsible for the bulk of the increase, expected to harvest a record crop of 348 million tonsthats 27% higher than the previous year. U.S. corn supplies have been tight since the size of last years harvest was hit by severe drought. But after high acreage seeded with corn this spring and largely favorable summer weather, the U.S. Department of Agriculture forecasts record U.S. corn output this year. That should push corn prices lower. Current levels mark a drastic turnaround since food prices soared to new heights in early 2011 amid global supply constraints for cereals, sugar and cocoa. Rising food prices helped spark the unrestknown as the Arab Springthat analysts say ultimately ousted the leaders of Tunisia, Egypt and Libya. The London-based International Grains Council this month said world corn production during the 2013-14 crop year will hit 943.2 million tons. It also predicted that world wheat production will increase to 692.6 million tons, reflecting better prospects for the European crop than previously expected and a larger harvest out of Russia and Ukraine. Still, despite ample supplies of cereals, the UN warned that food shortages continue to plague certain countries. Syria, because of the ongoing political tension has 4 million people which are in need of humanitarian assistance.