FDA inspections have stopped, thanks to government shutdown

Pittsburgh Post Gazette via AP  File		A woman shopped for lettuce in Pittsburgh in 2018

Pittsburgh Post Gazette via AP File A woman shopped for lettuce in Pittsburgh in 2018

In a move to minimize the impact of the shutdown, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb tweeted the agency is "taking steps" to expand domestic food safety inspections during the shutdown, especially for high-risk facilities that make up a third of regular inspections. Many USDA offices are closed during the shutdown but those inspections continue as usual, according to the agency's shutdown contingency plan.

Gottlieb noted that of the 160 weekly domestic food inspections routinely conducted by the FDA, about one-third of those are considered high-risk facilities.

The commissioner said he was working to bring back 150 inspectors as early as next week who have been furloughed during the shutdown, according to both The New York Times and The Washington Post.

Its inspectors are among more than 800,000 federal employees affected by the shutdown - the result of an impasse between President Trump and congressional Democrats over funding for the US-Mexico border wall. In a statement, the agency said it will continue operations as permitted by law.

Other consumer advocacy groups have argued that postponing the FDA inspections will put the American food supply at risk. Almost 7,000 of the agency's 17,000 employees are furloughed.

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In mid-December, she reiterated that vow, telling an audience that she would do the job "as long as I can do it full-steam". She was released from the hospital in NY four days later and has been recuperating at home since then.

The FDA oversees 80 percent of the food supply in the US. That includes drug approvals, inspections of drug producing facilities and regulating tobacco products.

"It's not business as usual, and we are not doing all the things we would do under normal circumstances".

Furloughed workers can start applying for unemployment benefits, or search for another job - things they cannot do if they're called back to work.

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.

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