Monday, February 11, 2013

Federal budget woes may hit food safety staff

From The Associated Press
WASHINGTON -- Impending across-the-board budget cuts could mean fewer government food safety inspections and higher prices for meat at the grocery store.

A White House memo released late last week said that one of the consequences of the federal budget cuts, known as sequestration, would be 2,100 fewer food facility inspections by the Food and Drug Administration, "putting families at risk and costing billions in lost food production." The cuts are set to take effect on March 1.

Department of Agriculture inspectors could be furloughed for up to 15 days, meaning meatpacking plants would have to intermittently shut down and there could be less meat in grocery stores.

The Obama administration, pressuring Congress to head off the cuts, warned people could get sick as a result.

"The public could suffer more foodborne illness, such as the recent salmonella in peanut butter outbreak and the E. coli illnesses linked to organic spinach, as well as cost the food and agriculture sector millions of dollars in lost production volume," the memo read.
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