The current government shutdown is on track to become the longest shutdown in history. Airports are missing TSA employees, state parks and museums have had to close down and now the FDA has had to pull back on inspections, potentially putting consumers at risk.
The agency is working to restore some food-safety inspections for products that are deemed "high-risk," such as seafood, fresh produce and infant formula.
FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb took to a Twitter threat to say that the agency will continue to inspect high-risk food facilities.
THREAD: Food Safety During 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. 31% of our inventory of domestic inspections are considered high risk— Scott Gottlieb, M.D. (@SGottliebFDA) January 9, 2019
Politco reports that a previous guidance from the Department of Health and Human Services said that the FDA would cease most of its routine food-safety inspections during a lapse in appropriations. Employees who remain on the job while the shutdown continues are working without pay.
Gottlieb informed followers that the FDA has only stopped or delayed a small number of inspections so far. He hopes that starting next week high-risk inspections can continue. However, routine food safety inspections for food facilities not deemed high-risk will continue to be suspended during the shutdown.