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.
The Food and Drug Administration has postponed routine domestic food safety inspections of many high-risk foods this week due to the ongoing partial government shutdown, the agency's commissioner said Wednesday. Under normal circumstances, the FDA inspects around 160 United States food production facilities a week, many of them deemed high-risk.
"For me to do that, it would require calling back about 10 percent of our inspection force [of roughly 5,000 inspectors]", Gottlieb said. High-risk facilities are those that either handle foods particularly vulnerable to safety issues, such as soft cheeses and seafood, or facilities that have a track record of food safety problems.
Despite the shutdown, the FDA said it's still conducting foreign food inspections, inspections at ports, and is dealing with recalls and outbreaks. "There are important things we are not doing".
Each year, an estimated 48 million people are sickened by foodborne illnesses in the United States, leading to 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "That puts our food supply at risk", Sorscher said. Inspectors working without pay are continuing to inspect meat and poultry facilities.