Food Safety

FDA Calls Inspectors Back Amid Government Shutdown

By Pan Demetrakakes, Senior Editor

Jan 09, 2019

The FDA is calling some food safety inspectors back to work, even though they can’t be paid due to the government shutdown, according to an NBC News report.

About 41% of the FDA’s workforce, including most of its inspectors, has been furloughed due to the budget impasse between President Trump and the House of Representatives.

Scott Gottlieb, the agency’s director, was quoted as saying that he intends to call inspectors back to work on what amounts to a triage basis. First to see resumed inspections would be plants that have experienced contamination or other safety issues. Next would be facilities that handle foods with high water activity or other risk factors.

Gottlieb said he is trying to take steps to minimize the economic impact on inspectors, who will be unable to take temporary employment or collect unemployment benefits while they are on the job. One such step will be allowing inspectors who travel to overseas facilities that export product to the United States to bill their travel expenses directly to the government, instead of paying out of pocket and applying for reimbursement.