FDA Food Safety Inspections Suspended During Government Shutdown

Due to the government shutdown, the FDA has suspended its safety inspection program.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety Inspection Service will continue manning every meat production facility with full-time inspectors. The bulk of the FDA food inspectors have been deemed non-essential, so will inspect few if any food facilities until Congress and the president agree on a bill to fund the federal government.

In 2011, the FDA conducted inspections of about 20,000 food facilities for compliance with safety regulations, even though the Food Safety Modernization Act requires U.S. inspectors to check almost 35,000 facilities a year, but funding has not been provided to meet the requirement. For every day the government is shutdown, approximately 80 food facilities will go without federal inspections.

What Does This Mean for Us as Consumers?

To get a better idea of how this government shutdown will affect us as consumers, we can look at 23 safety warning letter issued by the FDA to food facilities that failed inspections. They reveal gnarly conditions at major food manufacturing facilities, such as soiled water at a Detroit donut factory, high levels of illegal drug residues in veal from a farm in upstate New York, and flies buzzing around a tortilla factory in Maryland. The letters give the facility a chance to correct their sanitation issue before they cause serious foodborne illness outbreaks. Due to the fact that these warning letters are given to only a small fraction of all facilities and not all of them will have infractions that lead to seriously illness, it is impossible to say whether the cancellation of food safety inspections will harm us as consumers.

However, because food inspectors as unlikely to show up unannounced during the shutdown, food facilities may cut corners when it comes to sanitation. For this reason, food safety advocates called on Congress to end the government shutdown as soon as possible to fund food safety programs with a separate bill.

It is the responsibility of the food manufacturer to provide safe food for the public. If you or a loved one have been sickened due to a contaminated or recalled product, contact us immediately.

Learn more about this issue.

Dear friends and clients,

In furtherance of our firms culture of commitment to always act with compassion, concern and commitment to our clients, community and colleagues, we have been taking precautions to ensure that we are still fulfilling our ethical and moral obligations while prioritizing health, wellness and safety of all we can. 

As you know, the COVID-19 pandemic has introduced changes to many lives and businesses in our communities, and around the world. We, much like our neighbors and friends, have been taking precautions to ensure that we are still fulfilling our ethical and moral obligation to our clients, while also prioritizing the health, wellness and safety of our employees.

Until further notice, our offices will be closed to the public to encourage social distancing and to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Our team is still hard at work, many from home, and you may still call, email, live chat or video conference us if you or a loved one is seeking legal assistance. As the first law firm to offer our clients secure online access to their case file more than a decade ago, we have always been believers in using technology to make life easier and information more accessible. In these present times it has been a smooth transition for us to continue to offer our clients the same seamless and thorough service that you deserve and are accustomed to.

This pandemic is unlike anything any of us have faced in our lifetimes, and while we can continue to emotionally support one another through it all, staying home and keeping your distance is vital to the health and wellness of our communities. It does not feel good to break routines, cancel events and retreat from our normal, day-to-day socializing, but let us remember that, in times of strife, prior generations were asked to go to war and we are simply being asked to stay home. Your isolation equals more lives saved, and more time for medical providers to prepare for the treatment of patients battling COVID-19.

When the dust settles, we will join together with a greater appreciation for our lives, local businesses, loved ones and health. Until then, we will continue to offer guidance from a safe distance.

Very truly yours,

Andrew G. Finkelstein and the staff of Jacoby & Meyers, LLP