Published: Sat, January 12, 2019
Business | By Eloise Houston

FDA's routine food inspections halted amid government shutdown

FDA's routine food inspections halted amid government shutdown

According to The Washington Post, Gottlieb said he was working on plans to bring back the 150 now furloughed inspectors as early as next week to specifically focus on high-risk facilities after the shuttering of the government forced him to cancel 50 high-risk inspections. While those workers still wouldn't be paid until after the shutdown ends, Gottlieb said he was setting up an agency travel account to help those inspectors keep large balances off their personal credit cards.

The FDA inspects about 80 percent of the USA food supply.

Gottlieb said on January 5 that the agency has enough left over funds to keep reviewing drugs and other medical products for about a month.

Additionally local grocery store representatives told KAKE News Anchor Greg Miller that food companies also perform their own inspections and tests or hire third-party companies to do so, in order to maintain quality standards.

The FDA doesn't oversee meat and poultry and those inspections are continuing. Factors that determine whether a food is more susceptible to contamination include the type of food, how it's made, and the facility's history of violations. The FDA regulates about 75 percent of the USA food supply. The agency said all imported foods will continue to be inspected and that critical functions, such as monitoring for food poisoning outbreaks, remain up and running.

FDA investigations and recalls related to outbreaks continue under the shutdown because of the immediate health concerns.

Late past year, an E. coli outbreak linked to romaine lettuce sickened more than 60 people.

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

"We are still performing those inspections and do routine sampling in both processors and retail establishments", said Heather Lansdowne with the Kansas State Department of Agriculture.

"That's more and more issues they're potentially not catching", she said.

The agency pays for medical manufacturing and food safety inspections out of its own budget.

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