Target: President Barack Obama
Goal: Condemn government shutdown for forcing critical public health workers to be furloughed
As a result of the government shutdown, America’s food is not being inspected. Meanwhile, a salmonella outbreak originating in California managed to make people sick in eighteen different states. While the Center for Disease Control and Prevention called in furloughed workers to address the outbreak, federal agencies across the country that inspect domestic foods such as dairy and produce have been suspended until the end of the shutdown. Without these agencies functioning, public health is extremely vulnerable.
Inspectors help to identify dangerous strains of bacteria such as salmonella and E. coli. However, without enough workers, the federal agencies have severely limited ability to respond to an outbreak. At the Food and Drug Administration, which handles a majority of inspections, the agency has gone from inspecting two hundred plants per week to zero. The CDC is suffering too, with sixty eight percent of their workforce furloughed. This includes epidemiologists and employees who oversee the tracking of food-borne illnesses.
Other important workers waiting for the shutdown to end are lab technicians, administrative staff, and communication specialists. Without the communication departments running, agencies cannot get information out efficiently. When an outbreak occurs, it is important for the public to be informed so it does not spread any further.
Luckily, as a federal law, inspectors must be present at meat and poultry processing plants. However, America’s fruits, vegetables, dairy, and imported foods could be carrying with them unsafe bacteria that will go unchecked. Public health is at risk while federal employees of inspection agencies are furloughed. Condemn the government shutdown for endangering public health.
Dear President Obama,
The government shutdown is hurting people. Its effects are wide-ranging, including the safety of the public health. As long as workers at federal inspection agencies are furloughed during the shutdown, America’s food is not being adequately inspected. This could lead to a dangerous outbreak of salmonella poisoning or E. coli across the country.
While we understand that it is a treacherous task to try to foster camaraderie in Congress during this time, it is of the utmost importance that this shutdown pass. Not only is it affecting our country’s morale and economy, it is affecting our safety. One outbreak has already occurred with limited ability for the Center for Disease Control and Prevention to contain it. Do not let the furlough keep affecting public health. It is irresponsible on the parts of all participants of this dispute, including yours.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: KAZ Vorpal via Flickr