Since the first day of the government shutdown (October 1), the Food and Drug Administration has said that it would have to stop most of its routine food inspections. But now the agency has confirmed that all inspections will be stopped besides those "facilities that it has cause to believe present an immediate threat to public health."
According to Huffington Post, FDA spokesman Steven Immergut confirmed that all routine inspections will he suspended until the shutdown ends. Previously, reports stated that some inspections might still be carried out by state agencies. It's come out now that the FDA will not be funding such inspections during the shutdown. Some states may have funds leftover from the contracts from last fiscal year, but most don't.
What that means is about 167 delayed inspections by state agents for each week of the shutdown. Combined with the 200 inspections FDA employees would have been making, the total comes to 367 missed inspections a week.
Last week, the House of Representatives tried to pass a bill that would have restored funding for the FDA and its food safety program, but the Senate hasn't taken up the bill. Democrats and President Obama have repeatedly said they wouldn't support this type of piecemeal legislation to fund certain parts of the federal government without having to come to a comprise and end the shutdown as a whole.
So far, during the shutdown an ongoing salmonella outbreak had sickened a total of 317 people has of last Friday. Illness has now been reported in 20 states, up from the originally reported number of 18.