U.S. Food Supply May Be at Risk Due to Government Shutdown
Number of routine food inspections performed by the FDA dropped sharply
THURSDAY, Jan. 10, 2019 (Pharmacist's Briefing) -- Food inspections have declined due to the partial shutdown of the U.S. government, potentially putting the nation's food supply at risk.
The Food and Drug Administration typically performs about 160 routine food inspections a week, but there has been a sharp drop in that number since the shutdown began, CBS News reported. The FDA oversees about 75 percent of the U.S. food supply.
The agency says it is trying to get about 150 employees back to work to resume inspections of high-risk food facilities as early as next week, but inspections of routine facilities are stalled, CBS News reported. About 31 percent of the food checked by FDA inspectors is considered "high risk" and includes baby formula, seafood, cheese, and produce.
Along with looking for potential problems such as unsanitary conditions and infestations at food processing facilities, FDA inspectors also check food for Salmonella and Escherichia coli contamination, CBS News reported. The FDA says that during the shutdown, it is continuing foreign food inspections, inspections at ports, and dealing with recalls and outbreaks. Inspections of meat, poultry, and eggs are continuing, according to the Department of Agriculture.