Nearly 30,000 pounds of ground beef produced by Cargill Meat Solutions have been recalled after the meat was linked to a salmonella outbreak that sickened at least 33 people across seven states. The outbreak was discovered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), a program that oversees food inspections and is facing budget cuts under both President Obama and the House GOP’s fiscal 2013 budget plans.
Both Obama and the GOP requested $996 million for FSIS, a 9 percent decrease from 2012, according to the Appropriations Committee summary of the Republican legislation:
The legislation includes $996 million for food safety and inspection programs – which is equal to the President’s budget request and a decrease of $9 million below last year’s level. These mandatory inspection activities play a significant role in maintaining the safety and productivity of the country’s $832 billion meat and poultry industry.
Though both Obama and the GOP cut funding from FSIS, Republicans went a step further in making steep cuts to the Food and Drug Administration’s budget. Obama requested a 17 percent increase (to $4.5 billion) for the FDA as it attempts to implement and maintain the Food Safety Modernization Act, the most sweeping update of America’s food safety laws in more than a generation. The House Appropriations plan, however, provides $3.8 billion, an amount the Office of Management and Budget called “harmful” to the program in its analysis of the plan.
The savings brought about by such cuts pale in comparison to the cost of foodborne illnesses each year. One out of six Americans suffer from such an illness annually, with 128,000 resulting in hospitalization and 3,000 resulting in death. While the total cuts to FSIS and FDA in the Republican Appropriations plan would save roughly $700 million, foodborne illnesses cost the United States $152 billion each year.