Food Safety and Earmarks.

Food poisoning is a lot more common than I thought:

One in six Americans gets sick from food every year, and about 3,000 die from those illnesses, according to data released Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. [...]

The report estimates that 48 million Americans get sick from food each year. Of that, 9.4 million become ill after consuming food contaminated by at least one of 31 known bacteria, parasites and other pathogens. But the remaining 38 million victims -- the lion's share -- are poisoned by unknown pathogens, according to the report.

Reports like this give a little more context to the battle Republicans are waging against earmarks in the omnibus spending bill; John McCain might think it's silly to spend $246,000 on bovine tuberculosis treatment in Michigan and Minnesota, but for the rest of us, it's money to keep our food supply safe. The same goes for the $522,000 slated for cranberry and blueberry disease and breeding in New Jersey, and the $500,000 on oyster safety in Florida. Of course, there are definitely wasteful earmarks in that $8 billion, but we should stop treating these appropriations as if they were categorically bad, when they mostly aren't.

-- Jamelle Bouie

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