FDA Postponing Some Food Inspections As Shutdown Drags On, Commissioner Says

Mae Love
January 10, 2019

The commissioner said he was working to bring back 150 inspectors as early as next week who have been furloughed during the shutdown, according to both The New York Times and The Washington Post.

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

The government shutdown has put America's food supply at risk despite the best efforts of the Food and Drug Administration, experts warn. Under normal circumstances, the FDA inspects around 160 United States food production facilities a week, many of them deemed high-risk. Gottlieb said riskier foods account for about a third of the food covered by the agency's domestic inspections. High-risk facilities are those that either handle foods particularly vulnerable to safety issues, such as soft cheeses and seafood, or facilities that have a track record of food safety problems.

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

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"We are doing what we can to mitigate any risk to consumers through the shutdown", Gottlieb said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates 48 million people in the US get sick each year from food-borne diseases and about 3,000 of those people die.

From lettuce, to cereal and even ice cream - the FDA commissioner sent some stern tweets about potential candidates in food.

Meat, poultry, and egg facilities not inspected by the FDA are overseen by the US Department of Agriculture, which has maintained inspections during the shutdown.

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