Due to the government shutdown, many government run operations have halted. The Food and Drug Administration continues to inspect meat and poultry; however, they have stopped routine checks on seafood, fruits, and vegetables.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 48 million people in the United States annually obtain some sort of foodborne illness, while 128,000 are hospitalized, and approximately 3,000 of the illnesses turn fatal. Without routine inspections, these numbers increase due to consuming uninspected food.
Insects, rodents, and mishandled food can lead to these foodborne diseases, and with the FDA checking 80% of all food in the U.S., people are at a higher risk to receive some type of illness from their food.
FDA workers are also working for no pay to inspect food, so people call in sick. As stated above, the FDA checks 80% of all food, so much of the nation’s supply already does not get checked. Due to fewer workers and equal food supply, a lot of food will pass through routine inspections.
Another risk that Americans should be aware of is contaminated water. The FDA recommends steering away from shellfish until routine inspections are back up and running, as seafood poses potential hazards for a disease. It is also advised that people stay away from foods that a person will not cook, such as store-bought sandwiches, ice cream, and greens. Sushi is another food to avoid due to being uncooked fish. For cautionary reasons, people should cook their food and give up any raw meats or fish until the government shutdown is over.
A concern for the FDA is the uninspected food going to hospitals, where people who battle for their lives are not able to fight off other diseases.
Steps to avoid obtaining an illness include washing fruits and vegetables, cooking meat all the way through, and avoiding raw and prepackaged foods. People should buy food products from brands they trust, and generally, follow the steps that should normally be taken when preparing a meal.