Closing Down of US Food Testing Program Postponed

September 4, 2012

Unlocking Word Meanings
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

1. spare (v.) 
[spair] – to save from experiencing something
Example: Despite the poor economy, the company’s employees were spared from being fired.

2. recall (n.) [ri-kawl] – to request or demand that something be returned
Example: The government announced a recall of a medicine that had a dangerous side effect.

3. outbreak (n.) [out-breyk] – the sudden spread of a disease; an increased presence of a disease among people
Example: Doctors were not prepared for the outbreak of the virus.

4. foodborne (adj.) [food bawrn, bohrn] – coming from food
Example: Children easily get foodborne illnesses.

5. urge (v.) [urj] – to force or convince to do something
Example: The manager urged the employees to work overtime.

Read the text below.

The US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) food testing program was temporarily spared after government budget cuts nearly closed it down.

The testing program screens thousands of crops each year, preventing food contaminated with bacteria from reaching the public. They are responsible for recalls of lettuce, tomatoes and other food products from grocery stores.

But President Barack Obama‘s suggested budget has put the program at risk of being shut down.

Public health officials argued that without the testing program, the causes of outbreaks and other foodborne illnesses cannot be studied. According to statistics, one-third (1/3) of major foodborne illnesses last year were caused by contaminated fruits and vegetables.

Dr. Robert Tauxe, the top food-germ researcher of the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention's, emphasized that the program cannot be replaced with tests done by private companies.

On the other hand, industry leaders from United Fresh Produce Association and other major trade groups are urging the government to stop the program and let private sectors do food testing. Recalls have cost farmers and growers millions of dollars in losses. They want more testing to prove their products are safe, since the USDA’s program currently only tests products that have already left farms.

The food testing program will operate until December. Meanwhile, the USDA is still struggling to fund the program. The program needed $4.3 million to run last year.

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor. 

Discussion A

·         Do you think the food testing program should continue? Why or why not?
·         How does your government ensure that food sold in market is clean and safe to eat?

Discussion B
·         What should a government spend a large budget on (e.g., health/food safety, education, infrastructure, etc.)? Please explain your answer.
·         What do you think the government should spend a smaller budget on? What makes you say so?

September 4, 2012