Amid the government shutdown, the Food and Drug Administration has had to suspend routine inspections of food-processing facilities.
Responsible for inspecting 80 percent of the United States’ food supply, the FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb told the Washington Post recently that he’s working on a plan to bring back furloughed inspectors at high-risk facilities, which handle foods such as soft cheese and seafood.
Gottlieb told NBC News the following:
“It’s not business as usual, and we are not doing all the things we would do under normal circumstances. There are important things we are not doing,” he said.
Despite this, National Public Radio reporters say we don’t need to panic yet.
“In practice, the FDA carries out routine inspections at most plants only once every few years. So 99 percent of the country’s non-meat food facilities were not going to get inspected this month even if all the inspectors had been working as normal. As a result of the shutdown, fewer will, but the overall impact is small,” NPR reported.
Gottlieb continued, saying despite the shutdown, the FDA is continuing to inspect food entering the U.S. from abroad. In addition, most companies are subject to inspections by a parallel food safety system that is often more strict than the one the government has in place.