The FDA Won’t Be Doing Some Routine Food Inspections During the Shutdown

Foodborne illness is already a major problem in the U.S. Without oversight from the FDA, which oversees about 80% of America’s food supply, things could get worse.

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The partial government shutdown has had a significant impact on both furloughed federal workers and American taxpayers—sometimes in . Among the affected government agencies? The Food and Drug Administration, which has “sharply reduced” food inspections since the impasse began last month, the reported Wednesday.

In an interview with the Post, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said that while the agency is “doing what we can to mitigate any risk to consumers through the shutdown,” the loggerheads has forced the FDA to suspend all routine inspections of United States food-processing centers, spiking concerns about food safety.

“That puts our food supply at risk,” Sarah Sorscher, deputy director of regulatory affairs at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, told the Post. “Regular inspections, which help stop foodborne illness before people get sick, are vital.”

As the Post notes, foodborne illness is already a major problem in the U.S. Without oversight from the FDA, which oversees about 80 percent of America’s food supply, things could get worse.

In a series of tweets Wednesday, Gottlieb said he’s working to “expand the scope of food safety surveillance inspections we’re doing during the shutdown to make sure we continue inspecting high risk food facilities”—a move, according to , that would require the agency to bring back furloughed employees to work without pay.

Note: We’re still doing ALL of our regular foreign food inspections. But, on the domestic side, in rough numbers we’d typically do about 160 domestic food inspections each week, and about 1/3 of those would be considered high risk.

— Scott Gottlieb, M.D. (@SGottliebFDA)

Commodities deemed high risk include, but aren’t limited to: modified atmosphere packaged products; acidified and low acid canned foods; seafood; custard filled bakery products; dairy products including soft, semi-soft, soft ripened cheese and cheese products....

— Scott Gottlieb, M.D. (@SGottliebFDA)

.... (continued) unpasteurized juices; sprouts ready-to-eat; fresh fruits and vegetables and processed fruits and vegetables; spices; shell eggs; sandwiches; prepared salads; infant formula; and medical foods.

— Scott Gottlieb, M.D. (@SGottliebFDA)

Gottlieb noted that the FDA has continued to do “ALL” foreign food safety inspections throughout the loggerheads. But, he told NBC News, things are not “business as usual” at the agency.

“We are not doing all the things we would do under normal circumstances,” Gottlieb said. “There are important things we are not doing.”

The shutdown began last month, when President Donald Trump torpedoed a bipartisan bill to fund the government over his demands to fund the border wall, which he had repeatedly promised Mexico would pay for.

Democrats have put forth bills to reopen the government without providing funding for the wall, and a number of Republicans on Capitol Hill have signaled they’re willing to back the measures. But Trump has refused to budge, instead suggesting the shutdown could last for

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