January 11, 2019

1-11-2019 Shutdown hits FDA inspections nuggets (VOX)

  • On day 20 of the government shutdown, the Food and Drug Administration — which oversees about 80 percent of the nation’s food supply, including fruits and vegetables — has limited its regular food safety inspections. [NYT / Sheila Kaplan]
  • Don’t panic yet: Less than half a percent of annual inspections have been disrupted by the shutdown, according to FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb. Normal checks of low-risk facilities have been paused, but the shutdown has not stopped routine searches of high-risk manufacturers (which include products like baby formula, raw produce, and seafood). [Vox / Julia Belluz]
  • Gottlieb challenged previous FDA guidance to call back furloughed employees and prioritize high-risk inspections. [Washington Post / Laurie McGinley and Joel Achenbach]
  • The US Department of Agriculture — which oversees other parts of the nation’s food supply chain — has maintained regular inspections of meat, poultry, and egg products because it’s required to do so by law. Inspectors are working without pay. [NBC News / Maggie Fox]
  • Even when the government is open, high-risk food facilities sometimes go without regular inspection. The shutdown has brought to light the need for more frequent investigation into the 20,000 high-risk facilities functioning in the US. [Politico / Helena Bottemiller Evich]

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