Published: Sat, January 12, 2019
Money | By Ralph Mccoy

Routine domestic inspections suspended by FDA

Routine domestic inspections suspended by FDA

"For me to do that, it would require calling back about 10 percent of our inspection force [of roughly 5,000 inspectors]", Gottlieb said.

In a move to minimize the impact of the shutdown, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb tweeted the agency is "taking steps" to expand domestic food safety inspections during the shutdown, especially for high-risk facilities that make up a third of regular inspections.

The FDA conducts about 8,400 routine inspections of facilities that produce food every year.

In a subsequent post Wednesday, Gottlieb said the agency's limited food safety inspections would be focused on products like seafood, soft cheeses and unpasteurized juice that are more susceptible to food safety risks, compared to more routine inspections.

Additionally local grocery store representatives told KAKE News Anchor Greg Miller that food companies also perform their own inspections and tests or hire third-party companies to do so, in order to maintain quality standards.

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Gottlieb said the FDA's goal is to handle the most important inspections. Factors that determine whether a food is more susceptible to contamination include the type of food, how it's made, and the facility's history of violations.

The commissioner said he was working to bring back 150 inspectors as early as next week who have been furloughed during the shutdown, according to both The New York Times and The Washington Post. "But there are 80k food facilities in the U.S.", Helena Bottemiller Evich, an agriculture reporter for Politico, noted.

/ A man shops for vegetables beside Romaine lettuce stocked and for sale at a supermarket in Los Angeles, California, on May 2, 2018, where the first death from an E coli contaminated Romaine lettuce outbreak was reported. The FDA said its investigation into that outbreak will also continue. Sarah Sorscher, CSPI Deputy Director of Regulatory Affairs said in a statement, "That puts our food supply at risk".

The agency pays for medical manufacturing and food safety inspections out of its own budget.

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