Lapse in Government Funding Continues to Affect FDA, USDA
As previously covered on this blog, without either a fiscal year 2019 appropriation or a Continuing Resolution, a partial government shutdown, which began on December 22, 2018, has continued to impact both the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. As of the time of this blog’s publication, the government has been partially shut down for over 20 days.
Most recently, in a Twitter thread, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb noted that the agency stopped a limited number of domestic food inspections because of the shutdown, but the agency is, “taking steps to expand the scope of food safety surveillance inspections we’re doing during the shutdown to make sure we continue inspecting high risk food facilities.” Several commodities are deemed “high risk” and include: seafood, soft cheeses, fresh fruits and vegetables, spices, shell eggs, infant formula and medical foods. Gottlieb noted that the mechanism to expand the domestic inspections will be in place beginning the week of January 14.
As for the USDA, Senator Debbie Stabenow submitted a letter to the Secretary of Agriculture on January 9 requesting information on the impact that the shutdown is having on the agency, including the delay in implementing the recently-passed Farm Bill. As of the time of this publication, the Secretary has yet to respond. USDA put out a press release at the end of 2018 regarding activities that would be affected by the shutdown, but the department has not updated it since that time.