FDA Food Inspections Slowing Due to Government Shutdown

Significance of user fees to FDA

But while there is reason to be somewhat concerned about the reduced inspections, the situation is not yet an emergency.

Should Americans worry about the food the FDA can't inspect during the shutdown?

"During the lapse period, the agency will be continuing vital activities, to the extent permitted by the law, that are critical to ensuring public health and safety in the United States", Gottlieb noted on the FDA's website. Several commodities are deemed "high risk" and include: seafood, soft cheeses, fresh fruits and vegetables, spices, shell eggs, infant formula and medical foods.

"Want to calm some fears because of somewhat sensational reporting on the shutdown", Perdue said in a tweet Friday in response to alarming headlines, including those from The New York Times and NBC News, over food inspections halting during the government shutdown. She worries about the effects of a longer-term absence of routine FDA inspection.

Gottlieb said the FDA does roughly 8,400 inspections a year, though they don't conduct them over the holidays.

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Meanwhile, domestic meat and poultry are still being inspected by U.S. Department of Agriculture staffers, although they're working without pay.

"Government shutdowns should always be a cause for concern as it relates to the personnel affected, but the basic services that we take for granted on a day-to-day basis that will be affected by the continued shuttering of federal doors should be paramount", Hernandez explained. "And then before we opened they of course came in and did an inspection". According to a September 2018 report, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that "48 million Americans-one in six-are made sick by contaminated foods annually". Inspectors can help mitigate the risk by checking facilities for things like E. coli and salmonella contaminations, bug or rodent infestations and improper food handling.

"It's not business as usual, and we are not doing all the things we would do under normal circumstances", FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D., told NBC News. But even so-called "low risk" foods can be the source of illnesses.

"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. "But, we've had outbreaks from foods that are not high risk-from flour, from packaged foods".

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