While the government is up and running now, during the 16-day shutdown, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had an alarming 60 percent of its 1,602 investigators on furlough – which means routine inspections were suspended. Food facility inspections suspended due to shutdown
Most impacted was the food side of the agency – the FDA’s work on drugs remained largely operational because of financial support from fee systems. Impact on Food Safety May Compound Over Time
The FDA, which in fiscal year 2012 conducted more than 21,000 inspections or contracted state agencies to conduct them, delayed inspections at processing plants, dairies and other large food facilities. About 200 planned inspections a week were put off – in addition to more than 8,700 inspections the federal government contracts state officials to perform.
Under normal conditions, the FDA is hindered by limited funding and manpower.
Now, in addition to handling usual duties, the FDA will have to catch up on weeks of delayed activity – most importantly the routine inspections of drug and food facilities, suspended during the shutdown – which could continue to impact food safety. Shutdown Threatens Product Safety Rules
The agency — which oversees the safety of 80 percent of the American food system, including dairy, juice, raw eggs, farmed seafood and manufactured foods, such as Cheerios, peanut butter, M&Ms, hummus, canned soup and frozen ravioli, Routine Inspections Suspended – also stopped doing follow-ups on problems it had previously detected during the shutdown.
For safety’s sake, lets hope they get caught up soon.