Published: Thu, January 10, 2019
Finance | By Loren Pratt

FDA: Shutdown Means We're Not Doing 'Important Things' Like Inspections

FDA: Shutdown Means We're Not Doing 'Important Things' Like Inspections

He said he's working to bring back inspectors as early as next week to restart inspections of the high-risk facilities.

Late past year, an E. coli outbreak linked to romaine lettuce sickened more than 60 people. "There are important things we are not doing", Gottlieb told NBC News.

Gottlieb tweeted Monday that, under normal circumstances, "we'd typically do about 160 domestic food inspections each week, and about 1/3 of those would be considered high risk". Gottlieb said riskier foods account for about a third of the food covered by the agency's domestic inspections.

The Food and Drug Administration has postponed routine domestic food safety inspections of many high-risk foods this week due to the ongoing partial government shutdown, the agency's commissioner said Wednesday. In those evaluations, FDA inspectors assess manufacturing practices at food-processing facilities, as well as check for unsanitary conditions, such as infestations, and contamination issues.

Still, Sarah Sorscher, deputy director of regulatory affairs at nonprofit advocacy group The Center for Science in the Public Interest, called the missed inspections unacceptable.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates 48 million people in the US get sick each year from food-borne diseases and about 3,000 of those people die.

The FDA oversees 80 percent of the food supply in the US.

"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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