FDA food inspections stopped after government shutdown

Pittsburgh Post Gazette via AP  File		A woman shopped for lettuce in Pittsburgh in 2018

Pittsburgh Post Gazette via AP File A woman shopped for lettuce in Pittsburgh in 2018

The FDA said it is working to bring back about 150 employees to restart inspections of high-risk facilities as early as next week, but inspections of routine facilities are at a standstill.

The U.S. government isn't doing routine food inspections because of the partial federal shutdown, but checks of the riskiest foods are expected to resume next week.

Just previous year, the agency and the CDC helped pinpoint an outbreak of E. coli to romaine lettuce and track breakfast cereal that sickened some people with salmonella.

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". "There are important things we are not doing", Gottlieb told NBC News. 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.

Those deemed high-risk include facilities dealing with canned foods, seafood, certain bakery products, dairy products, and certain cheeses as well as unpasteurized juices, fruits and vegetables, spices, infant formula, and prepared salads among other items.

The FDA oversees about 80 percent of America's food supply and many overseas imports, and helps counter food-borne diseases that send about 128,000 people to the hospital each year, according to figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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

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