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FDA halts food inspections during government shutdown

12 January 2019
FDA halts food inspections during government shutdown

The Food and Drug Administration has stopped performing most domestic food inspections during the partial government shutdown, but that could soon change. "They all go on as usual, despite the federal shutdown".

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

He told the network the FDA would have some of its workforce work without pay in order to inspect "high risk food facilities".

/ A man shops for vegetables beside Romaine lettuce stocked and for sale at a supermarket in Los Angeles, California, on May 2, 2018, where the first death from an E coli contaminated Romaine lettuce outbreak was reported.

Gottlieb said that the agency, which oversees about 80 percent of the food supply, is continuing to surveil foreign manufacturers and imported food, as well as any domestic producers involved in a current recall or outbreak.

Gottlieb noted that of the 160 weekly domestic food inspections routinely conducted by the FDA, about one-third of those are considered high-risk facilities.

The shutdown has stretched deep into its third week and is on track to become the longest since the 1970s if the government doesn't reopen by Saturday. Trump said after the meeting it was a "total waste of time". "I said bye-bye, nothing else works!"

"The functions that can most directly impact consumer safety will continue, to the best of our abilities, subject to the legal and financial limitations of the current circumstances", FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in a tweet Tuesday.

But inspections are still happening.

The CDC says food-borne illness kills 3000 people in the USA annually, and sickens a whopping 48 million people each year. "The idea that a couple weeks of no routine food inspections puts us all in danger is probably a bit of a stretch".

Sarah Sorscher, deputy director of regulatory affairs at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, said the FDA's short-term lapse in routine food inspections isn't a cause for worry, but will be if the shutdown continues.