Food Safety Inspections Aren’t Happening Due to The Government Shutdown

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The US government shutdown is now in its 21st day. As part of the shutdown, many of the Food and Drug Administration’s food-inspection duties are not being conducted.

The government shutdown could lead to unexpected negative consequences of more food-poisoning outbreaks. With the fight over President Donald Trump’s demands for a wall along the US-Mexico border dragging on into its 21st day, some food-safety functions of the US government are going untended.

Click here to view original web page at A massive amount of American food safety inspections aren’t happening due to the government shutdown, and it could mean more food-poisoning outbreaks

According to one expert, the shutdown’s effects should make Americans concerned about food-poisoning outbreaks. There are two major agencies that oversee food-safety inspections in the US: the Food and Drug Administration, a division of the Department of Health and Human Services; and the Food Safety and Inspection Service, a division of the US Department of Agriculture.

The FSIS oversees inspections of meat, poultry, and eggs, while the FDA looks after the rest. According to the USDA’s shutdown plan, FSIS employees are deemed “essential,” and inspections conducted by the agency will continue. But employees carrying out those inspections are not paid. By contrast, the FDA’s plan determined that while limited inspections would continue during the shutdown — such as inspections of imported foods — a majority of food operations would be shut down.”FDA would be unable to support some routine regulatory and compliance activities,” the FDA plan said.

“This includes some medical product, animal drug, and most food-related activities. FDA will also pause routine establishment inspections, cosmetics and nutrition work, and many ongoing research activities.”In addition, the FDA deemed that employees responsible for responding to outbreaks of foodborne illness were essential. According to the FDA’s plan, 41% of all employees are on furlough, meaning the workers are not receiving pay and are barred from coming to work. Only 11% of FSIS workers are furloughed in that agency’s plan. But even those FSIS and FDA employees who are still on the job are facing financial woes because of the lack of pay.

Unpaid employees in other agencies, such as the Transportation Security Administration, are said to be calling in sick in large numbers, and problems in those departments are adding up. In its shutdown plan, the FSIS said problems with safety would worsen as a shutdown dragged on.”A lengthy hiatus would affect the safety of human life and have serious adverse effects on the industry, the consumer and the Agency,” the report said.

Bill Marler, an attorney many in food-poisoning outbreaks who has won more than $600 million for clients in foodborne-illness cases, pointed out that the real possibility of not receiving a paycheck on January 15 was also most likely affecting the inspectors remaining on the job.”Seriously, can we expect, as the shutdown stumbles into week two, that inspectors’ focus is solely on preventing the next E. coli, Salmonella or Listeria outbreak?” Marler wrote in a blog post.

How to Prevent Food Poisoning using The Food Safety Pillars

Using the food safety pillars, allows you to:

  1. Identify potential risks
  2. Assess the risks according to critical, major & minor
  3. Understand the basic requirements for a food safety management system
  4. Work according to the food safety pillars
  5. Train others in the awareness of food safety

What are the food safety pillars?

  • Cleaning & Sanitising
    • The first step in creating a food safety system is the fundamental aspect of cleaning and sanitising.
  • Personal Hygiene
    • The second pillar is probably the most important in terms of eliminating cross-contamination. Hand washing and clean hands awareness are critical to food safety.
  • Food Storage
    • The third pillar can be categorised into two areas 
      • Perishable foods (Cold storage)
      • Dry goods
  • Temperature Control
    • The fourth pillar of food safety is a fundamental principle in preventing the growth of bacteria and ensuring the quality of food is maintained.
  • Food Handling
    • The fifth and final pillar of food safety related to how food is handled during storage and preparation. Food Handling carries the greatest risk when dealing with cross-contamination.

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