The Slatest

Hope You Like National Parks Feces and Diarrhea Lettuce Because the Shutdown Is Lasting Until at Least Monday

Piles of lettuce in a supermarket.
“Lettuce” give you some advice: Lettuce might give you diarrhea right now because the government is dead. (Please read the article below for context about this hyperbolic statement.) Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Good news (for infectious diseases): With the Senate adjourned for the weekend, the partial government shutdown is guaranteed to last until Monday and become the longest in U.S. history.

That means, among other things, that human waste is going to continue to pile up in unattended national park bathrooms and that the Food and Drug Administration is going to continue to cancel inspections of “high-risk” foods, including fresh fruit and vegetables. (FDA director Scott Gottlieb said Wednesday he is trying to figure out a way to fund high-risk inspections, but no progress has yet been reported.)

I mean, this is just not a sentence you want to read about your nation’s fish:

Some public health experts were worried about the impact of the shutdown on inspection of fish.

To be clear, there are no active lettuce outbreaks going on right now, and even under normal operations high-risk facilities are only inspected once every three years. So the odds that the shutdown has already poisoned your intestines are low. Still, good luck with your soft and semisoft cheeses out there on Saturday and Sunday! Also, the Air Line Pilots Association is warning that there are “fewer safety inspectors” working at the Federal Aviation Administration right now “than are needed in order to ensure … air traffic control infrastructure is performing at its peak levels of performance.” Ha ha ha!