The FDA conducts about 8,400 routine inspections of facilities that produce food every year. Many USDA offices are closed during the shutdown but those inspections continue as usual, according to the agency's shutdown contingency plan.
With hundreds of food inspectors furloughed in the ongoing government shutdown, the Food and Drug Administration has suspended all routine inspections of domestic food processing facilities.
According to The Washington Post, Gottlieb said he was working on plans to bring back the 150 now furloughed inspectors as early as next week to specifically focus on high-risk facilities after the shuttering of the government forced him to cancel 50 high-risk inspections. President Donald Trump has remained steadfast in his demands for $5.7 billion from Congress to construct a border wall and resisted Democrats' efforts to forge a deal to reopen the government without it. "I said bye-bye, nothing else works!" "All our work is important, but only some of our work is permitted to continue during a lapse in funding". "But there are 80k food facilities in the U.S.", Helena Bottemiller Evich, an agriculture reporter for Politico, noted.
"It's not business as usual, and we are not doing all the things we would do under normal circumstances". That's according to FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, who revealed the news in an interview with the Washington Post published Wednesday.
"We are doing what we can to mitigate any risk to consumers through the shutdown", Gottlieb told the paper.
Despite the shutdown, the FDA said it's still conducting foreign food inspections, inspections at ports, and is dealing with recalls and outbreaks.
Furloughed workers can start applying for unemployment benefits, or search for another job - things they cannot do if they're called back to work.
Inspectors working without pay are continuing to inspect meat and poultry facilities.