All routine inspections of domestic food-processing facilities have been suspended, according to FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb.
The FDA oversees about 80% of the food supply and typically conducts about 160 routine inspections per week, with about 1/3 involving high-risk processing facilities.
After canceling more than 50 high-risk inspections, Gottlieb said he is seeking authority to call back about 150 furloughed inspectors to focus on high-risk facilities.
Inspectors look for unsanitary conditions, insect infestations, and test for dangerous bacterial contamination such as Salmonella and E. coli — just as they did last year, when FDA and CDC investigators traced a deadly E. coli outbreak in romaine lettuce to at least one farm in Central California.
The USDA Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) has continued inspections of meat, poultry, and egg products.