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Routine Food Inspections Halted by U.S. Government Shutdown: FDA

10 January 2019

He said the FDA was "taking steps" to "expand" its domestic inspections "to make sure we continue inspecting high risk food facilities".

Late previous year, an E. coli outbreak linked to romaine lettuce sickened more than 60 people. "There's no question of whether it's business as usual at FDA", FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb told NBC News. Under normal circumstances, the FDA inspects around 160 USA food production facilities a week, many of them deemed high-risk.

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"We're still doing ALL our regular foreign food inspections", Gottlieb said on Twitter. High-risk facilities are those that either handle foods particularly vulnerable to safety issues, such as soft cheeses and seafood, or facilities that have a track record of food safety problems. "But, on the domestic side, in rough numbers we'd typically do about 160 domestic food inspections each week, and 1/3 of those would be considered high risk". While those workers still wouldn't be paid until after the shutdown ends, Gottlieb said he was setting up an agency travel account to help those inspectors keep large balances off their personal credit cards.

The FDA oversees about 80 percent of America's food supply and many overseas imports, and helps counter food-borne diseases that send about 128,000 people to the hospital each year, according to figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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"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.

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Routine Food Inspections Halted by U.S. Government Shutdown: FDA