What Others Are Saying

May 01, 2007

Pet food really gets around, doesn't it? Lately we've learned that America's vast output of meat and grain products apparently isn't enough - or isn't cheap enough - to fully fuel the domestic pet food industry. Supermarket shelves are lined with dog and cat foods that include ingredients imported from - who knew? - China.

One element in the mix is wheat gluten. It adds protein and is harmless - unless contaminated, as some of it was, with the chemical melamine. The contamination's result, according to the federal Food and Drug Administration, has been at least 16 pet deaths and the recall of more than 100 brands of pet food. Vastly greater numbers of pet deaths have been reported by other sources.

Now, melamine has turned up in livestock feed. And in hogs in North Carolina and several other states. How did that happen?

China, we're told, is going over its wheat gluten supply and suggesting explanations that cast the blame on food manufacturers here. We'll see - but the only sensible response for the federal government is to ramp up inspections. Food safety is an issue with a long shelf life.

- The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.)

Recovering from two devastating hurricanes, residents in Louisiana and other parts of the Gulf Coast need flexible federal assistance programs that respond to conditions on the ground, not to arbitrary deadlines.

The Bush administration understands that reality when it comes to emergency housing, as evidenced by Thursday's announcement that assistance will be extended through March 2009 for more than 120,000 people who are still living in government-subsidized apartments and trailers.

The extension, estimated to cost $1 billion, is a welcome reprieve for residents who were set to lose the housing aid in August. Uninformed outsiders may think two years is long enough for the government to offer housing aid. But those who have witnessed the challenges residents are facing across the region had little doubt that many people still need assistance for months to come.

Government aid, however, should last only as long as there's a legitimate need, and moving people from emergency to permanent housing needs to be the ultimate goal. To that end, the administration's new policy requires that people living in subsidized housing start paying rent in March 2008, beginning with $50 a month and rising an additional $50 each month until the program ends in March 2009. That's a good compromise, and officials say people still unable to afford to pay those rates, including the elderly and disabled, will receive financial assistance.

- Times-Picayune (New Orleans)

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