Wednesday, 16 January, 2019

FDA suspends domestic food inspections during government shutdown

Scott Gottlieb. MUST CREDIT Bloomberg Toya Sarno Jordan Bloomberg FDA head Scott Gottlieb
Ginger Lawrence | 11 January, 2019, 22:58

The agency announced this week that romaine is safe to eat after concerns about E. Coli, though they are still investigating the cause of the outbreak.

In a move to minimize the impact of the shutdown, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb tweeted the agency is "taking steps" to expand domestic food safety inspections during the shutdown, especially for high-risk facilities that make up a third of regular inspections.

The FDA said it is working to bring back about 150 employees to restart inspections of high-risk facilities as early as next week, but inspections of routine facilities are at a standstill. Many USDA offices are closed during the shutdown but those inspections continue as usual, according to the agency's shutdown contingency plan. President Donald Trump has remained steadfast in his demands for $5.7 billion from Congress to construct a border wall and resisted Democrats' efforts to forge a deal to reopen the government without it.

"A total waste of time", the president declared of the meeting afterward. Under normal circumstances, the FDA inspects around 160 United States food production facilities a week, many of them deemed high-risk.

"Our work protects the food that families feed their children and pets and ensures the effectiveness of the medicine they need, all of which contribute to improving the health and welfare of Americans", it said.

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Gottlieb said the FDA's goal is to handle the most important inspections. "That puts our food supply at risk", Sorscher said.

Gottlieb said he's considering recalling 10 percent of the food inspection team because it's "the right thing to do for public safety".

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

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