Governor’s Budget Could Put Your Health In Jeopardy
(Editors Note: In a previous version of this article I incorrectly interpreted the Department of Health and Hospitals position on these proposed changes. After connecting with the DHH we have had that position clarified and this article has been changed to reflect a more accurate description of the department's position. We apologize for the lack of clarity in our original piece.)
Essential services. There is always talk about essential services when it comes government budgets. I for believe the basic safety of the food supply for the people of the state of Louisiana would fall under essential services. Under the proposed budget by Governor John Bel Edwards we could be not as safe as we are now.
I don't meant to imply that our Governor is doing this by choice. Or maybe it is a choice. I am guessing that there are other services that could be reduced besides the number of food inspectors that make sure our grocery stores and restaurants operate at cleanliness standards that are slightly above a roadside taco stand.
How much are we willing to gamble? What if I told you that 11% of Louisiana's restaurant and grocery store inspections would be eliminated under this budget? Is that a risk you're willing to take? Department of Health and Hospitals spokesperson Bob Johannessen told the Louisiana Radio Network his department's assessment of what these changes might mean to the people of Louisiana. .
The result is that we would likely see an increase in unsafe food handling practices and it very well could reduce the number of food borne illnesses we see reported in the state.
To put this in real numbers there would be 20-thousand fewer food inspections across the state. Perhaps that wouldn't be such a good idea. Think about how many people come to Louisiana for the food. In fact the word that dining in Louisiana might not be such a good idea is already spreading around the country. Take for example, this story from the Miami Herald.
New Orleans and other cities get a lot of tourists simply because of the food, the less those places are inspected, the greater likelihood that somebody could get sick.
I guess the upside to this is the resulting diarrhea and vomiting might help ease our state's obesity problem. If you're going to look for a silver lining that might be your only option.
Obviously there is a long way to go before the Governor's proposed budget will take effect and what the final version of the budget will look like. Perhaps there are other "essential" services that could be reduced or totally cut instead of something that puts the public in a less safe environment.