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The New York Times is reporting that the current partial government shutdown “has stopped routine food safety inspections of seafood, fruits, vegetables and many other foods at high risk of contamination.” The halt in inspections was announced via social media by Dr. Scott Gottlieb, Commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

“In a series of tweets,” the Times writes, “Dr. Gottlieb said he was taking steps to restore food safety surveillance inspections and to cover more of the high-risk sites as the shutdown continued. He said he hoped to bring back about 150 inspectors who had been furloughed during the shutdown, perhaps as early as next week.” However, Gottlieb was not sure how he could achieve this goal under current conditions.

The partial government shutdown occurred when the White House and Congress were unable to come to an agreement on a Continuing Resolution that would keep the government funded and operating. The Trump administration has demanded that any such funding include more than $5 billion to build a wall or some sort of physical barrier across the nation’s southern border with Mexico, a demand that has been rejected by the now Democrat-controlled House of Representatives.

The Times writes that “F.D.A. inspectors normally examine operations at about 160 domestic manufacturing and food processing plants each week. Nearly one-third of them are considered to be at high risk of causing food-borne illnesses … Domestic meat and poultry are still being inspected by staff at the Agriculture Department, but they are going without pay. The F.D.A. oversees about 80 percent of the nation’s food supply, as well as most overseas imports.”

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that food-borne illnesses send some 128,000 people to the hospital and kill 3,000 people each year.

The story also notes that user fees imposed on various industries are still able to cover some of the agency’s costs, and that FDA inspectors have been given “access to a central expense account so they could continue traveling while avoiding large personal credit card bills without knowing when the government would reimburse them.”

Still, public health experts remain concerned about the impact of the shutdown on food safety and the general population, especially if it continues without political resolution.
KC's View:
Food safety is one thing and, let’s be clear, very important.

But where I think these politicians really have crossed the line is in creating a shutdown that has stymied the release of any new craft beers for the time being.

That’s right. The Hill reports that “the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), which approves new labels, new liquor stores and new distribution across state lines, is shut down. That means that breweries nationwide, ranging from New Jersey’s Belmar’s Beach Haus Brewery to Michigan's Old Nation Brewing Co. to Oklahoma's Krebs Brewing Co., have put plans on hold.”

And brewers even are worried that “even when the government eventually reopens, the impact could slow down craft beer production and impact craft brewers' bottom line this year.”

Which is not good. Because it seems to me that if there is one thing that can be said about the current political situation, it is that it makes one want to drink. A lot.