FDA says most food inspections halted amid shutdown

Read the original article by Emily Birnbaum at thehill.com here.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says it has suspended all routine domestic food facility inspections amid the partial government shutdown.

FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb told The Washington Post that he is putting together a plan to resume inspections of facilities that are deemed “high-risk.”

The agency, which oversees the majority of the country’s food supply, typically conducts roughly 160 routine inspections per week, the Post reported.

While food inspections of most of these facilities have halted due to the funding shortfall caused by the shutdown, Gottlieb says he is seeking to bring back enough workers to investigate high-risk facilities, which deal with sensitive foods such as seafood and cheese.

Investigators during these routine checks typically look for unclean conditions, bug infestations and harmful contaminations.

“We are doing what we can to mitigate any risk to consumers through the shutdown,” Gottlieb said.

The FDA is still reportedly inspecting foreign manufacturers and producers involved in recalls or outbreaks.

Forty percent of the agency’s operations are covered by Congress, while 60 percent is funded by user fees, according to the Post. 

The shutdown on Wednesday hit day 19, as White House negotiators and Democratic leaders continue to dig their heels in over President Trump‘s demand for more than $5 billion in border wall funding. 

Trump has been seeking to frame the wall as the answer to a crisis at the border, while Democrats insist the president is playing politics and seeking to shore up support from his base. Democrats have offered $1.3 billion for border security measures, but no specific money for the wall. 

More Americans are feeling the ramifications of the prolonged shutdown as affordable housing contracts expire, Transportation Security Administration workers quit or call in sick and federal workers sue over the financial strain.  

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