FDA food inspections stopped after government shutdown

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From lettuce, to cereal and even ice cream – the FDA commissioner sent some stern tweets about potential candidates in food. It comes as the agency continues to deal with an absent workforce, thanks to the government shutdown.

“We’re taking steps to expand the scope of food safety surveillance inspections we're doing during the shutdown to make sure we continue inspecting high risk food facilities,” said FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb.

When the federal government shut down, roughly 40 percent of the FDA’s staff was laid off. That led to far fewer federal inspections on domestic food.

“We’re still doing ALL our regular foreign food inspections,” Gottlieb said on Twitter. “But, on the domestic side, in rough numbers we’d typically do about 160 domestic food inspections each week, and 1/3 of those would be considered high risk.”

But inspections are still happening.

“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. “They all go on as usual, despite the federal shutdown.”

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.

The FDA plans to either find new funding to bring inspectors back, or order them to work until the shutdown is over, then offer backpay.

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