Government shutdown stops FDA food safety inspections

National

The impact of the government shutdown is now affecting the food we eat. The FDA announced that some routine food inspections are not getting done.

We’ve been talking about the risks of flying with the TSA and air traffic controllers furloughed. Now it turns out to be at risk from the shutdown you don’t have to go anywhere except your local grocery store.

Related: Impact being felt at U.S. airports as TSA agents take sick days

The commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration confirmed through Twitter Wednesday that many routine food inspections have been postponed because the FDA’s funding is tied to the partial government shutdown.

Inspectors are still looking at imported food. They’re still checking domestic meat and poultry, but the New York Times reports FDA inspectors normally check out 160 domestic food plants every week, and they just don’t have the people to do that right now. 

In a series of tweets, commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb said the FDA does around 8,400 inspections each year, and more than a dozen have been postponed so far this week. 

The Centers for Disease Control estimate 48 million people get sick, and 3,000 die every year in the United States from food borne illnesses. 

The Times reports that some inspectors are still working because some of the administration’s funding comes from fees on the industries it regulates. The commissioner tweets that he is working to get inspectors back on the job, especially to look at what are considered high-risk foods, like soft cheese and seafood. 

But he also writes that asking inspectors to come back without pay could jeopardize their ability to collect unemployment or take on a second job to make ends meet during the shutdown.

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