Not only are government employees with mortgages and bills not being paid under the ongoing almost three-week-long government shutdown, but now there is a potential public health threat: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has drastically cut back on routine inspections of high-risk foods at manufacturing and processing plants across the country, leaving seafood, fruits, vegetables, and many other foods at high risk of contamination unchecked by federal officials.
Here's how it's supposed to work: F.D.A. inspectors will normally visit about 160 manufacturing and food processing plants across the country each week to see if everything is being handled properly.
Domestic meat and poultry are still being inspected by staff at the Agriculture Department, but they are going without pay. She says the FDA does a lot less than you think it does. Months before the most recent scare, E. coli found in romaine lettuce killed five people and hospitalized hundreds.More news: Police respond to active shooting at New Jersey UPS facility
"While the FDA claims that it will continue to conduct "for cause" inspections and pursue criminal and civil investigations related to 'imminent threats to human health or life, ' the agency has posted no new warning letters since the shutdown began more than two weeks ago", the organization said in a written statement this week. The report noted that the agency inspected about 19 percent of all food facilities in 2015.
"If those inspectors are not there what happens?" she asked.
"We met with Bismarck Burleigh Public Health and those folks there talked with them about what our kitchen was going to look like so they were here a few times with that process", Todd said.More news: All-New 2020 Ford Explorer ST Is Ford's Most Powerful SUV Ever
Barbara Kowalcyk, a professor in the Department of Food Science and Technology at Ohio State University, takes a more cautious view. About 31 percent of those would be considered high-risk, he said. That means this is the first week with no inspections.
"I feel safe, I feel confident with the food that's being distributed to the public", Anton said.
The lack of inspections has a number of outside organizations anxious. Unpasteurized juices, soft cheese, and raw fish have always carried a relatively higher risk, for example, but even in normal times, that still amounts to a low chance of getting sick.More news: 'Game of Thrones' Final Season Premiere Date Revealed
Food-safety advocates have long argued that they should be inspected more frequently as a routine practice, but FDA has a limited number of inspectors.