FDA suspends domestic food inspections during government shutdown

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

The Food and Drug Administration says it's working to bring back about 150 employees to inspect riskier foods such as cheese, infant formula and produce. The risk also looks at the manufacturing history of the product and compliance history. "The idea that a couple weeks of no routine food inspections puts us all in danger is probably a bit of a stretch".

The shutdown has stretched deep into its third week and is on track to become the longest since the 1970s if the government doesn't reopen by Saturday. A meeting Wednesday between congressional leaders and President Donald Trump ended abruptly, with the president storming out when Democratic lawmakers refused to fund a wall at the U.S. -Mexico border.

"FDA's ongoing work upholding food safety continues, even during this partial funding lapse", Gottlieb posted on Twitter.

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

The FDA oversees about 80 percent of America's food supply and many overseas imports, and helps counter food-borne diseases that send about 128,000 people to the hospital each year, according to figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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

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He said about a third inspections are at places that handle high-risk foods.

Routine inspections of lower-risk facilities that work with products like baked goods will still be suspended, though that will not impact inspections that are for cause or as part of a larger outbreak investigation. Almost 7,000 of the agency's 17,000 employees are furloughed. "It's not business as usual, and we are not doing all the things we would do under normal circumstances".

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

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

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. They expect to restart some of those inspections next week.

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