FDA Halts Routine Food Inspections Due to Government Shutdown

Pittsburgh Post Gazette via AP  File		A woman shopped for lettuce in Pittsburgh in 2018

As the partial government shutdown nears a third week, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced that it's been forced to suspend routine inspections of domestic food-processing facilities. Many USDA offices are closed during the shutdown but those inspections continue as usual, according to the agency's shutdown contingency plan.

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 risk also looks at the manufacturing history of the product and compliance history. That led to far fewer federal inspections on domestic food. The outbreak appears to be over, and the FDA's investigation into it is ongoing. "Our ability to monitor/respond to emerging food safety issues is maintained through efforts of a dedicated workforce that's fully committed to this mission".

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.

More news: Chinese Huawei employee arrested on spying charge in Poland

"A total waste of time", the president declared of the meeting afterward.

The FDA conducts about 8,400 inspections a year, or an average of 160 a week. In a statement, the agency said it will continue operations as permitted by law. "I said bye-bye, nothing else works!" Almost 7,000 of the agency's 17,000 employees are furloughed. "But there are 80k food facilities in the U.S.", Helena Bottemiller Evich, an agriculture reporter for Politico, noted. That's according to FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, who revealed the news in an interview with the Washington Post published Wednesday.

"It's not business as usual, and we are not doing all the things we would do under normal circumstances".

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