FDA says most food inspections halted amid shutdown

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Chef Extraordinaire
May 9, 2007
Southeastern Virginia
"The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says it has suspended all routine domestic food facility inspections amid the partial government shutdown.

"FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb told The Washington Post that he is putting together a plan to resume inspections of facilities that are deemed "high-risk."

"While food inspections of most of these facilities have halted due to the funding shortfall caused by the shutdown, Gottlieb says he is seeking to bring back enough workers to investigate high-risk facilities, which deal with sensitive foods such as seafood and cheese.

"Investigators during these routine checks typically look for unclean conditions, bug infestations and harmful contaminations.

“We are doing what we can to mitigate any risk to consumers through the shutdown,” Gottlieb said."

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Don't Panic: The Government Shutdown Isn't Making Food Unsafe

This NPR article explains a bit about how food inspections are handled by the FDA, USDA, and private inspection companies. Shutdown or no shutdown, things seem close to status-quo. Not sure how good that status quo is, though, with the flurry of recalls on romaine, ground beef, romaine, eggs, romaine, etc in the last few years...

Don't Panic: The Government Shutdown Isn't Making Food Unsafe

These are the points that caught my eye, although there is a lot of "food" for thought. ;)

"There are about 8,000 slaughterhouses and meat processors in the United States that can't legally operate without a U.S. Department of Agriculture inspector on-site. Those inspectors are working through the shutdown."

"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."

"A lot of domestic food companies, meanwhile, are subject to inspections carried out by a parallel food safety system — a private one that's similar, and sometimes even tougher, than the government's program."
Major food companies are no doubt maintaining their health obligations just as if the shutdown hadn't happened. It's the ones on the fringes that may be of concern to some (flies, rat droppings, etc).
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