FDA food inspections stopped after government shutdown

Daniel Fowler
January 11, 2019

In those evaluations, FDA inspectors assess manufacturing practices at food-processing facilities, as well as check for unsanitary conditions, such as infestations, and contamination issues.

"We're taking steps to expand the scope of food safety surveillance inspections we're doing during the shutdown to make sure we continue inspecting high risk food facilities", said FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb.

Gottlieb tweeted they hope to resume some inspections after this week marked the first inspections the agency had to skip due to the shutdown.

"FDA's professional staff remain fully dedicated to our mission", Gottlieb said in a tweet Wednesday.

A third of FDA's routine inspections are of high-risk facilities that work with products like fresh fruits and veggies, seafood, dairy products, prepared foods, infant formula, and medical foods. The agency announced this week that romaine is safe to eat after concerns about E. Coli, though they are still investigating the cause of the outbreak.

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Its inspectors are among more than 800,000 federal employees affected by the shutdown - the result of an impasse between President Trump and congressional Democrats over funding for the US-Mexico border wall.

The FDA oversees about 80 percent of America's food supply and many overseas imports, and helps counter food-borne diseases that send about 128,000 people to the hospital each year, according to figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "I said bye-bye, nothing else works!" The Food and Drug Administration does about 160 routine food inspections a week but since the shutdown inspections have been sharply reduced.

Other consumer advocacy groups have argued that postponing the FDA inspections will put the American food supply at risk.

"We're still doing ALL our regular foreign food inspections", Gottlieb said on Twitter.

The Department of Agriculture said its inspections of meat, poultry, and eggs will also continue.

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