FDA Halts Routine Food Inspections Due to Government Shutdown

GettyImages-866274648

GettyImages-866274648

He's now working on a plan to call back 150 inspectors to focus on the high-risk facilities. The risk also looks at the manufacturing history of the product and compliance history. That led to far fewer federal inspections on domestic food.

"The FDA is still reportedly inspecting foreign manufacturers and producers involved in recalls or outbreaks". "Our ability to monitor/respond to emerging food safety issues is maintained through efforts of a dedicated workforce that's fully committed to this mission".

The partial shutdown is on track to be the longest since the 1970s if the government doesn't reopen by Saturday. A meeting Wednesday between congressional leaders and President Donald Trump ended abruptly, with the president storming out when Democratic lawmakers refused to fund a wall at the U.S. -Mexico border.

"A total waste of time", the president declared of the meeting afterward.

The FDA conducts about 8,400 domestic inspections a year, or an average of 160 a week, Gottlieb said.

"That's more and more issues they're potentially not catching", she said.

FDA is permitted to continue some work, though.

One sign of FDA enforcement are the warning letters sent if problems are found during inspections. Almost 7,000 of the agency's 17,000 employees are furloughed.

"Forty percent of the agency's operations are covered by Congress, while 60 percent is funded by user fees, according to the Post". That includes drug approvals, inspections of drug producing facilities and regulating tobacco products. "There are important things we are not doing", Gottlieb told NBC News.

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

Based on legal guidance from the 2013 government shutdown, Gottlieb says that FDA "could not conduct regular food inspections during a funding shortfall".

The FDA is responsible for monitoring all food in the U.S. except meat, poultry, and eggs which are under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. They expect to restart some of those inspections next week.

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