Posted by | August 23, 2011 13:53 | Filed under: Top Stories

by Stuart Shapiro

Every once in a while in the current climate of slashing budgets I like to remind folks about some of the ways government helps save lives.  Food recalls is a big one.  Last week, USDA recalled 36 million pounds of ground turkey that may be contaminated with a strain of salmonella that is antibiotic resistance.  As OMB Watch describes:

A total of 79 persons infected with the outbreak strain have been reported from 26 states between Mar.1 and Aug. 3, 2011. Hospitalizations and one death have been reported. Cargill says it has suspended production of ground turkey products at the processing facility until it is able to determine the source of the salmonella and take corrective actions. The CDC estimates that 50 million Americans get sick from food poisoning annually, and about 3,000 of those illnesses result in death.

If we want to improve the response to outbreaks, or better yet, prevent dangerous contamination altogether, we must ensure that the FDA and USDA receive adequate resources and cooperation. These agencies must be able to perform the inspections and investigations necessary to identify threats to food safety and rapidly respond to outbreaks. This requires staff, funding, and cooperation between agencies and food manufacturers.

Cutting funding to USDA and FDA will result in slower recalls and more cases of food poisoning.  Maybe that’s a price we have to pay for fiscal austerity but we need to acknowledge it and debate it rather than simply complaining about big government.

 

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Copyright 2011 Liberaland
By: Stuart Shapiro

Stuart is a professor and the Director of the Public Policy
program at the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers
University. He teaches economics and cost-benefit analysis and studies
regulation in the United States at both the federal and state levels.
Prior to coming to Rutgers, Stuart worked for five years at the Office
of Management and Budget in Washington under Presidents Clinton and
George W. Bush.