FDA suspends domestic food inspections during government shutdown

A worker packs cheese curds into wheels at Vella Cheese in Sonoma

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. "But, on the domestic side, in rough numbers we'd typically do about 160 domestic food inspections each week, and 1/3 of those would be considered high risk". But such inspections have not been scheduled as usual due to the shutdown.

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

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.

"We're still doing ALL our regular foreign food inspections", Gottlieb said on Twitter.

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

After a year plagued by deadly E. coli outbreaks linked to widely distributed romaine lettuce, 2019 is off to an anxiety-inducing start.

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. Under normal circumstances, the FDA inspects around 160 U.S. food production facilities a week, many of them deemed high-risk.

"I think most people agree these inspections are important". "That puts our food supply at risk", Sorscher said.

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