The recent salmonella outbreak has highlighted a problem in the food inspection system. The federal government relies heavily on states to monitor our country’s food supply. However, dozens of food inspection jobs are vacant, due to state budgetary woes. For instance, Georgia, the site of the Peanut Corporation of America plant at the center of the recent salmonella outbreak, has 15 vacant inspector positions. Currently, about 60 state inspectors in Georgia are responsible for 16,000 sites. In Texas, 34 people are responsible for inspecting 21,000 facilities. According to food safety experts, there is an increasing risk that food problems won’t be detected when there are shortages of inspectors. The food inspector shortage is not expected to improve any time soon, as many states are facing budget shortfalls, and are even cutting funds for roads and police.
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