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12 January 2019, 08:13 | Austin Hogan
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In the wake of a partial government shutdown in the US, The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced that it has suspended all routine domestic food facility inspections. "The idea that a couple weeks of no routine food inspections puts us all in danger is probably a bit of a stretch". Inspections have continued for foreign manufacturers, imported and domestic commodities involved in outbreaks or recalls, and anywhere the agency suspects there may be a safety-related problem. "Our ability to monitor/respond to emerging food safety issues is maintained through efforts of a dedicated workforce that's fully committed to this mission".
The shutdown has stretched deep into its third week and is on track to become the longest since the 1970s if the government doesn't reopen by Saturday. The shutdown, now in its 19th day, is the President's response to not yet receiving Democratic approval for funding a wall along the U.S./Mexico border. In a statement, the agency said it will continue operations as permitted by law.
It's the rotten result of hundreds of FDA inspectors having been furloughed.
"Our work protects the food that families feed their children and pets and ensures the effectiveness of the medicine they need, all of which contribute to improving the health and welfare of Americans", it said.
Gottlieb said the FDA's goal is to handle the most important inspections.
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Its regulation of new medical products could be affected as well. "It's not business as usual, and we are not doing all the things we would do under normal circumstances".
"We are doing what we can to mitigate any risk to consumers through the shutdown", Gottlieb told the Post.
Gottlieb said FDA inspections would have ramped up this week for the first time since the holidays, so the lapse in inspections of high-risk foods will not be significant if they resume soon. They expect to restart some of those inspections next week.
The Department of Agriculture has said its inspections of meat, poultry and processed eggs will continue, and that 89 percent of its food safety employees are still working.
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