11 June 2008

The Story of Underfunded Mandates and Tomatoes

F.D.A. Reports Progress in Tracing Salmonella

167 people are sick with a salmonella infection from certain types of raw tomatoes.

The agency warned consumers over the weekend to avoid certain raw red plum, red Roma and red round tomatoes and products containing them. Cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes and those sold with the vine still attached are not associated with the outbreak, officials said.

This pops up from time to time. But with food traveling farther and being spread farther, its harder to pin point things and to regulate them. Think how much more trouble Dr. Snow would have had if the water from Broad Street was being shipped, nearly unregulated throughout Europe.

But the incompetence of the current administration overwhelms even my interest in epidemiology.

In November the food and drug agency released a “food protection plan,” but the Bush administration did not ask for the money to finance parts of it until Monday night. The health and human services secretary, Michael O. Leavitt, said on Monday that he would amend the administration’s budget request by asking for an additional $275 million for next year, $125 million of which would go to food protection.

I feel I might need to kick my cynicism up a notch. Unsurprised is not enough, one must now assume that whatever part of the government was put in place to take care of whatever is falling apart now, is currently massively underfunded.

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