FYI: The FDA Has Ceased Its Food Inspections

istock.com/Olivier Le Moal
istock.com/Olivier Le Moal

It may be safe to eat romaine lettuce again, but The Hill is reporting that the FDA is suspending "most food inspections" amid the current partial government shutdown.

As the government shutdown rounds out its third week, the effects have begun to take a toll on both minor and major scales. Government workers are missing paychecks, affordable housing contracts are expiring, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is not able to cover all of its usual duties. According to the official FDA website, around 55 percent of their $5.4 billion budget comes directly from federal funding, with the other 45 percent coming from industry user fees.

With fewer resources for protecting the nation's food supply, FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb has had to delegate most workers to investigate "high risk facilities," such as those that produce seafood or cheese.

In 2018, nearly a dozen different products were cited for salmonella contamination, including raw turkey, pre-cut melon, and even Honey Smacks cereal. The FDA also warned of a possible salmonella outbreak from eggs last May.

Though the FDA will continue to inspect foreign manufacturers and products, the agency generally conducts roughly 160 food inspections per week. They look for any possible contamination due to various unclean circumstances, and that is only the beginning of a much longer process if foods actually need to be recalled. The FDA also investigates cases sent to them by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); after an illness or outbreak has been reported, the FDA works to trace where the contaminant could have come from before recalling and pulling problematic products from the shelves. All of this takes a lot of work, as we recently reported.

[h/t The Hill]

America's Paper Towel Obsession, Explained

iStock.com/Eerik
iStock.com/Eerik

At this point, the Brawny man can probably afford something nicer than a flannel shirt. Americans spend roughly $5.7 billion annually on paper towels, using them to clean up everything from spilled coffee to baby dribble to windows. Roll after roll is unspooled from a paper towel holder, makes a detour into a mess, then winds up directly in the garbage.

Are we really so lazy that we can’t wring out and reuse a sponge, a cloth wipe, or washable napkins? Or has Big Towel brainwashed us into believing that paper towels are simply the most convenient method of keeping things clean?

The question was recently explored by The Atlantic's Joe Pinsker, who noticed that Americans make up nearly half of the world’s paper towel use. (Second-place France spends just $635 million per year on discarded towels, little more than a tenth of what the U.S. shells out.) Pinsker wondered if it was due in part to population, but even on a per capita basis, we still spend more on towels than any other country in the world. Countries with comparable economies don’t buy as much as we do.

It turns out that the reasoning behind our alleged paper towel obsession may reside in how we problem-solve. In using a disposable towel, a mess can be immediately addressed and discarded, leaving no trace or obligation to clean our cleaning supplies.

There may also be pragmatic reasons: Using one-time-use towels reduces the chances of cross-contamination. (Imagine a sponge covering a bacteria-covered surface, then being set aside for reuse later.) And in a public bathroom setting, paper towels may actually be more hygienic than hand dryers, which can spread bacteria.

If you have a paper towel addiction, one tip Pinsker passed along is to consider reusing them. (Provided, of course, the mess wasn’t made up of raw meat or fish.) Sturdier paper towels can sometimes stand up to multiple applications before they start to break apart. You can also try using fewer towels by folding one in half and taking advantage of what’s known as interstitial suspension to trap water between the layers.

[h/t The Atlantic]

We're Hiring a Videographer/Editor!

iStock.com/filo
iStock.com/filo

Mental Floss is seeking a full-time videographer/editor to join our team in New York City. This person will shoot and edit multiple videos a week for our site and other platforms, contribute to brainstorming sessions, and see each video through every stage of production to the final product. This includes:

- Pitching video ideas and planning their execution
- Shooting in studio and on location
- Lighting shoots in studio and on location
- Recording audio
- Editing video
- Creating text and basic motion graphics

Ideal candidates will be ambitious, detail-oriented, and deadline-driven, and comfortable being a key player on a team as well as managing independent projects. They will have solid technical and production skills, and are equally comfortable shooting and editing. A sense of humor, wit, and the proclivity to pitch in and do whatever needs doing to get the job done are essential.

REQUIREMENTS

- 2-4 years making short-form digital video
- Experience shooting, lighting, and audio recording in the studio and on location
- Experience editing videos
- Proficiency in Adobe Premiere, After Effects, and Photoshop
- A knowledge of "what works" across platforms—but also an inclination to push the boundaries and innovate
- Strong writing skills
- Bonus points if you have animation and graphic design experience

TO APPLY

Send an email with the subject "Mental Floss Editor/Videographer" to anna@minutemedia.com. In your cover letter, tell us why you're a fit for our team and what a perfect Mental Floss video would be. Tell us about your most relevant work experience. Include a link to your portfolio and/or at least three links to short-form videos you shot or edited (specify your role). Please include your resume and salary requirements.

If we bring you in for an interview, we'll also ask you to do a video editing test. Please note that this is not a remote position; our offices are in midtown Manhattan.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER