Science and Tech


FDA Can't Conduct Most US Food Safety Inspections During The Shutdown

FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb says the partial government shutdown caused the agency to halt its routine U.S. food facility inspections.
Posted at 5:40 PM, Jan 09, 2019

The FDA has temporarily stopped its routine food inspections at U.S. facilities due to the partial government shutdown. 

FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb told media outlets that the agency is working to ensure that inspectors are still reviewing high-risk facilities.

For some context, federal regulators typically handle about 160 routine food inspections per week in the U.S. According to Gottlieb,  about a third of those are at high-risk food processing plants. 

He says the FDA determines risk factor by looking at the type of food handled, the facility's process and its compliance history. 

High-risk foods include items like dairy products, seafood, unpasteurized juices, prepared salads, fresh fruits and vegetables. 

Some experts say halting the inspections puts the U.S.' food supply at risk. 

The CDC estimates that 48 million people get sick from a foodborne illness each year, and 3,000 die as a result. 

It's important to note that the FDA is still inspecting foreign food manufacturers, and facilities that are suspicious or have been involved in recalls and outbreaks. 

Around 40 percent of the FDA's staff are furloughed during the shutdown. 

Additional reporting from Newsy affiliate CNN