Routine Food Inspections Halted by U.S. Government Shutdown: FDA

Lloyd Doyle
January 10, 2019

Just past year, the agency and the CDC helped pinpoint an outbreak of E. coli to romaine lettuce and track breakfast cereal that sickened some people with salmonella. Gottlieb said riskier foods account for about a third of the food covered by the agency's domestic inspections.

He said the FDA was "taking steps" to "expand" its domestic inspections "to make sure we continue inspecting high risk food facilities". That means the inspectors who work for the FDA have been furloughed, making it much harder for them to inspect the 80% of the nation's food supply that they oversee.

Roughly 31 percent of the food they deal with is considered to be "high-risk" and includes baby formula, seafood, cheese and produce. 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. The agency has had to suspend routine testing of most domestic food production facilities, though inspections of imports are continuing.

"We are doing what we can to mitigate any risk to consumers through the shutdown", Gottlieb said. He's now working on a plan to call back 150 inspectors to focus on the high-risk facilities. "Regular inspections, which help stop foodborne illness before people get sick, are vital".

Foodborne illnesses sicken 48 million people each year and kill 3,000, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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