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FDA to restart inspections of high-risk foods

Despite the government shutdown, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration will resume inspections of high-risk food -- such as some produce and cheese -- as early as today, January 15.

Food inspections by the agency are exclusively funded by taxpayer money and such work was halted as a result of the closure, which began on December 22.

“The response from our outstanding field force and inspectorate has been overwhelming and outstanding,” FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb tweeted on January 14. “They're among the finest, most dedicated professionals in our federal workforce and we're grateful for their service.”

FDA is responsible for safety oversight of about 80 percent of the U.S. food supply, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service is responsible for the rest -- including all meat and some eggs. USDA inspectors have been working during the shutdown without pay because federal law requires continuous inspection.

The FDA is legally required to inspect facilities that handle high-risk foods every three years. Facilities handling foods not deemed high-risk -- such as baked products -- must be inspected every five years.