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On January 15th, US Food & Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb announced that hundreds of FDA inspectors and staff returned to work, albeit as unpaid employees.

Only about 150 inspectors are responsible for monitoring 80% of the US food supply. These inspectors had halted routine inspections of food processing facilities due to the government shutdown. Today, inspections and sampling restarted for both domestically produced higher-risk foods like cheese, seafood and baby formula, and for imported high-risk foods at US ports of entry.

The FDA typically conducts 160 inspections per week. As inspectors return to work, they will focus solely on high-risk foods, with low-risk inspections halted. As food inspections are paid for through congressional appropriations, the lack of funding for this important work presents an immediate risk to consumer food safety.

You can read more about the FDA inspection resumption here.