FDA food inspections stopped after government shutdown

Food inspections

When the federal government shut down, roughly 40 percent of the FDA's staff was laid off.

Gottlieb said that the agency, which oversees about 80 percent of the food supply, is continuing to surveil foreign manufacturers and imported food, as well as any domestic producers involved in a current recall or outbreak.

But as our ABC affliate in Atlanta, WSB, found out, most of those inspections aren't happening during the shutdown.

"I think most people agree these inspections are important".

"It creates an increased risk that there may be another outbreak", said Sarah Sorscher, with the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

"Investigators during these routine checks typically look for unclean conditions, bug infestations and harmful contaminations".

The government shutdown has put America's food supply at risk despite the best efforts of the Food and Drug Administration, experts warn.

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Each year, an estimated 48 million people are sickened by foodborne illnesses in the USA, leading to 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"We are still performing those inspections and do routine sampling in both processors and retail establishments", said Heather Lansdowne with the Kansas State Department of Agriculture.

"We're taking steps to expand the scope of food safety surveillance inspections we're doing during the shutdown".

Gottlieb explained that despite the strain an uncertainty regarding their pay, he feels his colleagues are special, showing dedication to a shared mission.

"The functions that can most directly impact consumer safety will continue, to the best of our abilities, subject to the legal and financial limitations of the current circumstances", FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in a tweet Tuesday.

Normally the FDA sends dozens a month. FDA actually changed its travel policies last week so inspectors can charge travel expenses to a government account instead of personal credit cards. So far this year, the FDA has issued no warning letters.

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