Hundreds of salmonella cases tied to Foster Farms chicken have been reported all around the western US, including Washington. The outbreak wasn't caused by the shutdown, but the shutdown sure isn't helping. Rebecca Boyle at Popular Mechanics writes:

On Monday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced chicken produced at three Foster Farms plants in California has been linked to salmonella sickness. "The outbreak is ongoing," the alert said. News like this normally comes from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which monitors foodborne illnesses. But thanks to the lapse in federal funding, the CDC is not running its normal surveillance, and most of its communications staff has been furloughed.

During an outbreak, the CDC not only leads federal agencies' response but also heads up the epidemiological work. That includes the lab and field research required to link cases across state lines and to attribute a specific person's illness to a specific food. This information can be used to close a processing plant, start a recall, or take other action. Right now, that work is not being done. And the CDC unit that tracks illnesses, overseeing a database called PulseNet, is working with less than half its normal staff.

Go read the whole story. Nothing highlights the importance of government like the absence of government. Also, I wrote about the shutdown in this week's feature.