On Tuesday, U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) inspectors and other staff members returned to work in an effort to resume oversight of high-risk food facilities, according to a Washington Post report. The move was made possible with approval from the Office of Management and Budget, and the Department of Health and Human Services, says FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb.
Previously, the shutdown had put routine inspections of domestic food processing plants on hold. Now, high-risk facilities--those that manufacture seafood, baby formula, some soft cheese products, and plants that have a history of food safety issues--are being inspected again. Inspections related to food product recalls and foodborne outbreaks have not been affected by the government shutdown.
In a typical week, FDA completes about 160 routine inspections. Usually, about one-third of those are performed at high-risk facilities.
Despite returning to work, the workers--150 of them focused solely on food safety--remain unpaid as the partial government shutdown continues. Inspections of low-risk food processing facilities have not yet resumed.