Food Safety Testing Slows with Trump's Hiring Freeze

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With President Trump making sweeping changes to just about every facet of the U.S. during his first weeks in office, it should come as no surprise that he’s also altering the food industry.

His decision to freeze hiring and programs at the FDA and USDA could be problematic to food safety measures. Delays in lab tests for products such as meat, poultry, processed egg products and catfish are expected through at least March 3. That could put the health of American consumers at risk, as food contaminants may not be discovered for several weeks, endangering shoppers. 

In August, a report from Stericycle ExpertSolutions showed a spike in recalls. The FDA had recalled more than 80 times more food units in Q2 than in Q1, and the USDA had recalled more than 45 times the amount of food in the same time frame. But this spike, many said, was not necessarily due to more unsafe food. More rigorous testing through the Food Safety Modernization Act — a large portion of which took effect last year — may have raised more warning flags for more preventive recalls.

While there are no executive orders that can have an immediate impact on FSMA's tenets, slowing down the testing and warning procedure could roll back the advances the new law makes. Instead of being proactive, at least for a short while, recalls could again be driven by people actually getting sick from contaminated products.

More information about Trump’s hiring freeze can be found HERE.