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FDA hits back at US media’s food fears

Katie Coyne24/01/2019 - 14:27

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US government shutdown impacting food inspections
US government shutdown impacting food inspections

The US Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) has been obliged to clarify which of its food operations are continuing during the government shutdown, amid claims in the media that some foods are unsafe because of a reduction in inspections.

The shutdown – the result of a standoff over funding for President Donald Trump’s border wall with Mexico – began before Christmas. The FDA press office has been closed but FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb has been tweeting updates. He said the agency had received ‘multiple inquiries’ about which critical food operations were continuing during the shutdown.

He tweeted: ‘Examples of the work that we're still doing include: 1) high-risk domestic food surveillance inspections; 2) foodborne illness surveillance and outbreak investigations; 3) execution of high-risk food recalls; 4) inspection of foreign food facilities; and 5) sampling of imported food samples (including sampling for antibiotic residue contamination and decomposition analysis).’

This was in response to several negative news stories. CNN, for example, ran a story warning consumers off sprouts, leafy greens, and ready-to-eat products such as cheese and ice cream. It warned that children, pregnant women, and those with compromised immune systems should be especially careful.

Gottlieb added that out of about 550 staff at the Office of Human and Animal Food Operations, more than 200 food investigators (not counting support staff and supervisors) are working.

He said: ‘We're deeply grateful for the #FDA professional staff that continue to carry on this mission unpaid, while also incurring expenses on their personal government credit cards for travel.

‘We're doing everything we can to support them as they protect American consumers.’



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