Thursday, 17 January, 2019

Routine domestic inspections suspended by FDA

Pittsburgh Post Gazette via AP  File		A woman shopped for lettuce in Pittsburgh in 2018 Pittsburgh Post Gazette via AP File A woman shopped for lettuce in Pittsburgh in 2018
Orlando Vargas | 12 January, 2019, 20:11

Gottlieb noted that of the 160 weekly domestic food inspections routinely conducted by the FDA, about one-third of those are considered high-risk facilities.

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.

Gottlieb said on January 5 that the agency has enough left over funds to keep reviewing drugs and other medical products for about a month.

Gottlieb is trying to bring back about 150 inspectors as soon as possible, hopefully next week, to inspect high-risk facilities, such as those that process soft cheese and seafood or make infant formula, or those that may have had issues with food safety in the past.

Additionally local grocery store representatives told KAKE News Anchor Greg Miller that food companies also perform their own inspections and tests or hire third-party companies to do so, in order to maintain quality standards. Factors that determine whether a food is more susceptible to contamination include the type of food, how it's made, and the facility's history of violations.

From lettuce, to cereal and even ice cream - the FDA commissioner sent some stern tweets about potential candidates in food. 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.

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Just a year ago, the agency and the CDC helped pinpoint an outbreak of to romaine lettuce and track breakfast cereal that sickened some people with salmonella.

Still, Sarah Sorscher, deputy director of regulatory affairs at nonprofit advocacy group The Center for Science in the Public Interest, called the missed inspections unacceptable.

'That's more and more issues they're potentially not catching, ' she said.

Many USDA offices are closed during the shutdown but those inspections continue as usual, according to the agency's shutdown contingency plan.

The agency pays for medical manufacturing and food safety inspections out of its own budget.

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