Government Shutdown Preventing FDA From Conducting Routine Safety Inspections

About 30% of the country's processing plants are at high risk of causing food-borne illnesses.

FDA shutdown
The FDA is currently unable to inspect some foods like fish. (Getty Images)
Getty Images/iStockphoto

If you think the government shutdown isn’t impacting you, think again. The Food and Drug Administration is currently unable to conduct routine safety inspections of seafood, fruits, vegetables and many other foods at high risk of contamination because of the federal government shutdown.

F.D.A. inspectors normally examine operations at about 160 manufacturing and food processing plants each week, The New York Times reported; but now about one-third of them of them are considered to be at high risk of causing food-borne illnesses.

The F.D.A. oversees about 80 percent of the nation’s food supply, as well as most overseas imports.

Domestic meat and poultry are still being inspected thanks to staff at the Agriculture Department, who are doing their jobs without pay.

F.D.A Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said he was taking steps to restore food safety surveillance inspections and to cover more of the high-risk sites as the shutdown continued, according to the Times. Gottlieb’s plan includes bringing back about 150 furloughed employees but, he admitted, he’s not yet sure how.

“These are people who are now furloughed and can collect unemployment insurance or take a second job,” he said. “If we pull them in and tell them they have to work, they can’t collect. I have to make sure I’m not imposing an undue hardship.”

The InsideHook Newsletter.

News, advice and insights for the most interesting person in the room.