January 16, 2018

Food Safety Effects of the Government Shutdown

The Office of Management and Budget has released a report detailing the costs of the October 2013 government shutdown. Overall, the shutdown reduced the fourth quarter GDP by 0.2 to 0.6 percentage points and may have resulted in 120,000 fewer private-sector jobs.

CongressIn terms of food safety, the FDA had to delay nearly 500 food and feed domestic inspections and about 355 food safety inspections under state contracts because 45% of their workforce was furloughed. Those inspections help ensure that unsanitary conditions that may result in foodborne illness are addressed. The FDA also cut back on testing and lab analysis of imported foods. Imports have caused several large foodborne illness outbreaks in the past several years.

The shutdown¬†also forced cutbacks in CDC monitoring of foodborne illness and potential outbreaks. All federal¬†agencies continued to conduct “for cause” inspections where it was determined that there may have been an imminent threat to life or health.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission’s work to recall products that cause injuries, including kitchen appliances and food preparation tools, was stopped. And the EPA halted reviews of pesticides for adverse effects on human health and was unable to inspect drinking water systems. Overall, the shutdown will cost the economy between $2 and $6 billion.

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