In the midst of what may be the longest partial government shutdown in history, the Food and Drug Administration has ceased all routine food safety inspections of fruits, vegetables, seafood, and other perishables considered to have a high contamination risk, FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb said on Wednesday.
Every week, FDA inspectors typically analyze operations at approximately 160 domestic manufacturing and food processing plants. About one-third of these facilities are considered to have high-risk factors when it comes to causing food-borne illnesses, which hospitalize about 128,000 and cause the death of 3,000 people each year, according to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
While domestic meat and poultry facilities are still being inspected by Agricultural Department staff, employees continue to go without pay.
Gottlieb communicated his goals on Twitter to restore inspection procedures quickly, but advocacy groups are speaking out against the increased hazard for potential contamination during the partial shutdown.
Experts also feel that inspectors not receiving payment may turn to temporary jobs for financial support, which could create an even greater shortage.
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