The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has stopped food safety inspections of foods including fruits and vegetables because of the government shutdown, The New York Times reported.
FDA inspectors normally examine operations at about 160 domestic manufacturing and food processing plants each week. Nearly one-third of them are considered to be at high risk of causing food-borne illnesses, the story reported.
In a series of tweets, FDA commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb said he was taking steps to restore food safety surveillance inspections and to cover more of the high-risk sites as the shutdown continued. He said he hoped to bring back about 150 inspectors who had been furloughed during the shutdown, perhaps as early as next week.
Dr. Gottlieb said he was still trying to figure out how that could be achieved. “These are people who are now furloughed and can collect unemployment insurance or take a second job,” he said.
“If we pull them in and tell them they have to work, they can’t collect. I have to make sure I’m not imposing an undue hardship.”