Economy

Routine food inspections halted by partial government shutdown

Routine food inspections halted by partial government shutdown”

The partial government shutdown has left America's food industry in a pickle - as the Food and Drug Administration has been forced to suspend routine inspections of food-processing facilities.

The agency is still conducting inspections of foreign food coming into the country but under its shutdown contingency plan regular inspections of domestic facilities are suspended, raising concerns that Americans could be at higher risk for outbreaks of foodborne pathogens. But such inspections have not been scheduled as usual due to the shutdown. Gottlieb tweeted that a few dozen may have been missed because of the shutdown. The agency said it will focus attention on high-risk food items like seafood, bakery and dairy products, fruits and vegetables, prepared salads, infant formula and medical foods, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said.

Each year, an estimated 48 million people are sickened by foodborne illnesses in the United States, leading to 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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.

The partial government shutdown has been going since December 22 with no sign of a compromise.

On Wednesday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (N.Y.) said the president abruptly walked out of a White House meeting to discuss ending the shutdown, saying Trump threw a "temper tantrum because he couldn't get his way". Trump said after the meeting it was a "total waste of time". "I said bye-bye, nothing else works!"

The FDA conducts about 8,400 inspections a year, or an average of 160 a week.

The FDA oversees 80 percent of the food supply in the US.

But the agency is skipping the 160-or-so routine food inspections it usually performs each week.



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