The government shutdown has had impacts in all areas of day to day life in this country, some that you may not even realize. The closure is due to President Donald Trump requesting 5.7 billion dollars to fund a border wall between the US and Mexico. Neither party is willing to compromise, so it doesn’t seem there’s an end in sight anytime soon. This is officially the most extended shutdown in American history. That means we’re now facing consequences we’ve never had to before, some of which affect the Food and Drug Administration and the inspections they typically perform.
The Real Impact
In the midst of the shutdown, the FDA has had to postpone their internal inspections that include high-risk foods found in your local grocery stores. Some of those foods include fresh fruits and vegetables, soft cheeses, and seafood. The FDA routinely inspects 160 manufacturing plants per week, roughly one-third of those contain the high-risk foods mentioned above.
Getting Back to Business as Usual
With no end to the government shutdown in sight, the FDA is working to make necessary changes. 150 inspectors who have been furloughed during the shutdown should be returning to work within the next week to help make up for the areas lacking inspections. Some food categories have maintained their regular inspection schedule, including foreign food and domestic meat and poultry.
Should You Be Worried?
The thought of purchasing food that hasn’t been adequately inspected is alarming, but the reality may be much less scary than it sounds. With nearly 80 thousand food facilities currently in the US, the FDA is never able to inspect them all regularly. The inspections have helped to detect some severe outbreaks of E. coli and salmonella in recent months, but realistically, a few missed checks don’t suddenly put the entire country at risk. If you’re concerned about your safety during the shutdown, stay away from high-risk foods for the time being. The FDA wants to maintain security for the public as best it can, but during the shutdown, it’s becoming increasingly difficult. The FDA will release updates to the public as needed if the shutdown continues for a more extended period. The public should remain calm and trust that the organization is doing everything they can during this challenging time, but mass panic over the safety of food is unnecessary.