Shutdown Limits FDA Efforts to Protect Food Safety

Significance of user fees to FDA

Although the partial government shutdown that began on December 22 has caused the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to suspend routine food safety inspections of seafood, fruits, vegetables and other foods, due to a lapse in federal funding, FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb sought to reassure stakeholders and consumers that the agency was operating to the best of its abilities.

Routine food inspections aren't getting done because of the partial government shutdown, but checks of the riskiest foods are expected to resume next week, the Food and Drug Administration said Wednesday. Without regular inspections, we are at a high risk of catching food-borne illnesses, which send about 128,000 people to the hospital each year, and kill 3,000, according to the NYT report, which adds, "The F.D.A. inspects food companies for bugs, rodents, mishandled food, improper preparation and other hazards".

But now the FDA has stopped its inspection of foods at the domestic level and the production facilities too and that simply means it to be a threat for the public which is going to be undetected.

FDA inspectors normally examine operations at about 160 domestic manufacturing and food processing plants each week. The FDA said its investigation into that outbreak will also continue. He said about a third of the inspections are at places that handle high-risk foods. This is not welcome news for a nation just emerging from a severe romaine lettuce E. coli outbreak.

The FDA is continuing foreign inspections. She worries about the effects of a longer-term absence of routine FDA inspection.

FDA inspectors are responsible for 80 percent of the food supply, including seafood, canned goods, packaged good, fruits and vegetables.

"We assess risk based on an overall, cross-cutting risk profile", the commissioner added.

"We met with Bismarck Burleigh Public Health and those folks there talked with them about what our kitchen was going to look like so they were here a few times with that process", Todd said.

Benjamin Chapman, an associate professor and food safety specialist at North Carolina State University, tells Live Science's Rettner that the food Americans are eating is likely as safe as it was before the shutdown. "I don't think it's a major concern". State inspectors, for instance, often liaise with state experts to improve food safety, which is hard to do during the shutdown.

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