Food Safety

Federal Shutdown Impacts Food Inspections


With the partial government shut down on December 22, 2018, FDA inspectors were among thousands of federal employees who were furloughed halting regulation policy work and eliminating key food inspections.

During a typical week when the government is fully functioning, FDA inspectors visit approximately 160 domestic food manufacturing and processing plants. The FDA is responsible for approximately 80% of all food inspections, plus inspections for overseas imports.

While the shutdown required widespread work stoppage, unpaid federal workers from the USDA inspected domestic meat and poultry. FDA workers continued essential responsibilities including addressing recalls and food safety issues, responding to foodborne illness outbreaks, and inspecting the highest risk foods.

Additionally, overseas FDA inspectors performed inspections that had been arranged prior to the shutdown.

Nearly one-third of foods the FDA normally inspects are considered high risk for foodborne illness. The CDC reports that foodborne illnesses sicken at least 128,000 people, resulting in 3,000 fatalities.

Lower priority functions, including inspecting lower risk foods, writing regulations, and communicating with the public, were halted during the duration of the shutdown.

As the shutdown wore on, consumer confidence in food safety diminished.   Thankfully the shutdown ended on January 25th, 2019 without incident of any major food safety matters.








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