Huge Salmonella Outbreak Plus Government Shutdown Equals Chaos

A huge salmonella outbreak has combined with congressional intransigence has resulted in a government shutdown worst case scenario, Wired is reporting — and salmonella outbreak across a dozen and a half states and counting is possibly worsening.

The mag’s government shutdown salmonella report is certainly in the realm of alarmist, with a bit of a focus on “we knew this would happen!” and “we were warned!” But it is true that normal procedures in place during a foodborne illness outbreak are part of the government shutdown, hampering the agencies involved in their standard efforts to quell a larger number of sickened Americans.

And while the government shutdown is what we on the internet call “serious business,” salmonella is no hilarious new meme either. The illness, which can wallop babies, old people, pregnant women, and anyone with an immunocompromised status, is sometimes fatal and often very grave — though most healthy people are able to beat the infection.

An email for the unessential Food Safety Inspection Service confirmed the salmonella outbreak, as well as the inability to do more to trace back the illness to one specific company or product. The mail obtained by Wired read:

“FSIS is unable to link the illnesses to a specific product and a specific production period… The outbreak is continuing.”

The mag spoke last week about the possibility of a government shutdown food illness outbreak with a CDC staffer, who cautioned:

I know that we will not be conducting multi-state outbreak investigations. States may continue to find outbreaks, but we won’t be doing the cross-state consultation and laboratory work to link outbreaks that might cross state borders.”

The FSIS explained in a statement that there are some hunches about the salmonella outbreak, believed to be from contaminated chicken, and adds:

Raw products from the facilities in question bear one of the establishment numbers inside a USDA mark of inspection or elsewhere on the package:

  • “P6137”
  • “P6137A”
  • “P7632”

The products were mainly distributed to retail outlets in California, Oregon and Washington State.

The government shutdown linked salmonella outbreak is believed to have affected Arizona, Arkansas, Alaska, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wisconsin so far. However, foodborne illness is nearly always underestimated, and the illness has already sickened a recorded nearly 300 people.