FDA suspends domestic food inspections during government shutdown

A man shops for vegetables beside Romaine lettuce stocked and for sale at a supermarket in Los Angeles California

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.

According to The Washington Post, Gottlieb said he was working on plans to bring back the 150 now furloughed inspectors as early as next week to specifically focus on high-risk facilities after the shuttering of the government forced him to cancel 50 high-risk inspections. "There are important things we are not doing", Gottlieb told NBC News.

"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. Gottlieb said riskier foods account for about a third of the food covered by the agency's domestic inspections.

Roughly 31 percent of the food they deal with is considered to be "high-risk" and includes baby formula, seafood, cheese and produce.

"Regular inspections, which help stop foodborne illness before people get sick, are vital", said Sarah Sorscher, deputy director of regulatory affairs of the nonprofit advocacy group Center for Science in the Public Interest.

From lettuce, to cereal and even ice cream - the FDA commissioner sent some stern tweets about potential candidates in food.

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

The Department of Agriculture said its inspections of meat, poultry, and eggs will also continue.

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