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]

Surprise: A Special Print Issue of Mental Floss Magazine Is On Newsstands Now!

Cover by Linzie Hunter
Cover by Linzie Hunter

Growing up, I never missed an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Smart, resourceful, and committed to doing the right thing even when it was hard, Buffy was many things I aspired to be. She faced all kinds of evil, and often came close to defeat. But in every case, she came back swinging—usually literally. And she was always slaying villains with her witty retorts. One of my favorites occurs in the first season, after the Big Bad thinks he has defeated her, as a prophecy foretold. When she shows up to fight him again, he exclaims, “You’re supposed to be dead! It was written!”

“What can I say,” Buffy responds. “I flunked the written.”

Comebacks of all kinds have been on my mind as we crafted a edition of Mental Floss magazine, on stands at Barnes & Noble stores starting today. In 2016, after 15 years, the magazine ended its run, and since then we’ve been a digital-only publication—one that often receives notes from former print readers sharing thanks for the things they learned in its pages. So when the chance to create a special issue in collaboration with the Paper & Packaging Board arose, we jumped at it—and couldn’t think of a “Flossier” theme than Big Questions.

As Buffy often showed us, no one pulls off a comeback alone—you need the help of your friends. (It’s what makes her a stronger Slayer than any other.) We put our digital team to work on this issue and called in the help of former editors Jessanne Collins, who gave us advice, and Lucas Reilly, who put together a comeback-themed Scatterbrain; asked Arika Okrent, A.J. Jacobs, and Ken Jennings to pick up their pens for us again; and had fact checker Riki Markowitz put her research hat back on. In the issue you’ll find stories about Thomas Jefferson’s mastodon obsession, the Mandela Effect, a ghost town, and a slew of new scientific discoveries. You can see some of the stories in the issue right here.

We love a good comeback story, and are thrilled to have brought the magazine back, even if it’s just for a limited time. But Mental Floss, and the original spirit and mission upon which it was founded, has never gone away. So we hope you have as much fun reading the issue as we did putting it together, and that—once you’re done reading—you’ll hang out with us here on MentalFloss.com, where we’re answering big questions, telling strange stories, and dropping fascinating facts every single day.

Thanks for reading,

Erin

We’re Hiring a Social Media Editor/Manager

iStock/ComicSans
iStock/ComicSans

We're looking for a Social Media Editor to join the award-winning Mental Floss team in our New York City offices. Mental Floss has won Webby Awards (three!), lost ASME Awards (thrilled to be nominated!), and published 15 books and five board games. Our YouTube channel has 1.3 million subscribers, our Facebook page is liked by 2.4 million people, our Twitter feed has 685,000 followers, and we reach 13 million people a month through mentalfloss.com. Our goal is to find fascinating stories and bring them back to our readers. The kind of stories that readers will want to share, both via social media and beyond. Can you help us tell them?

Social Media Editor

The Social Media Editor will strengthen Mental Floss’s relationship with our current readership and, using both creative editorial knowledge and data analytics, help us find ways to introduce the brand to new audiences and markets. This person will be responsible for overseeing all of the brand’s social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and more.

In addition to bringing Mental Floss’s voice to both existing and emerging platforms, the Social Media Editor will:

  • Develop all social media strategies and audience engagement efforts;
  • Write, schedule, and publish captivating daily social content, with a focus on driving traffic and conversion and boosting audience engagement;
  • Interpret data and analytics to inform the content we create and promote, and submit detailed weekly and monthly social media performance reports;
  • Have impeccable writing skills, strong attention to detail, and a thorough knowledge of social media platforms and analytics;
  • Work with both editors and writers to track and suggest news stories and, if desired, have the chance to pitch and write stories for the site;
  • Help maintain current content partnerships with other organizations and influencers and look for additional opportunities that could be beneficial to the brand.

Ideal candidates will have:

  • At least 3 years previous social media experience at a publisher or entertainment brand (writing experience is a plus);
  • Fluency on all current social media platforms and eagerness to keep informed of all emerging platforms and digital tools;
  • Graphic design experience and intermediate/advanced level Photoshop skills;
  • Expertise in interpreting data to make metrics-based editorial and promotional decisions;
  • Clear understanding of key social metrics like CPM, reach, engagements, and how to analyze the outcomes and trends on social media pages;
  • Excellent time management skills, the ability to prioritize, and a high level of attention to detail;
  • Energetic, positive written voice;
  • Sound editorial judgment and ability to frame articles and videos for social promotion;
  • Ability to thrive in a fast-paced environment.

How to Apply

Just click here!

About Us

Blending the utility of education and joy of entertainment, Mental Floss is a community for curious minds. Our readers are passionate about learning but choosy with their attention. With a unique perspective that’s equal parts nerdy, worldly, and funny, we serve them by mining history, science, and culture for amazing facts and incredible stories, and packaging these in the most engaging forms that digital and social media offer today. We publish lists on pretty much every topic, from pop culture (“9 Unbelievable Movie Fan Theories That Turned Out to Be True”) and travel (“4 Spectacular Shipwrecks You Can Dive Near Chicago”) to science (“7 Amazing Facts About the Amygdala”) and food (“8 Forgotten Pie Recipes We Should Bring Back”). You can also find answers to life’s big questions (why isn’t there a B battery, and what are those white marks on your fingernails?!) and features about subjects like the hidden room behind Mount Rushmore; the history—and disappearance—of waterbeds; and the Apollo 11 astronaut who was allergic to the Moon.

Mental Floss was founded in a dorm room in 2001, and since then, we’ve grown to become a premier knowledge brand: 13 million users visit us online each month, our Facebook videos receive more than 30 million views, and our YouTube channel has more than 1 million subscribers.

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