Pundits and politicians say there’s no quick end in sight to the partial shutdown of the federal government as signs of the practical impact of the impasse continue to pile up.
Crucial functions that involve immediate threats to public safety are continuing even though many of the employees who perform those jobs are not being paid because of the shutdown. For example, the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service staff responsible for inspections art meat and poultry plants are on the job so those private businesses don’t have to shut down.
Some staff at the Food and Drug Administration are also furloughed without pay but will work as needed if recalls or outbreaks come up before the partial shutdown ends.
Some testing and enforcement activities, however, are on hold at FDA and have been since the partial shutdown began at midnight on Dec. 22, 2018.
As of today, it’s been more than a month since the FDA issued its most recent warning letter to a food company. The agency issued its most recent warning letter on the drug side of its jurisdiction on Dec. 3, 2018. The FDA’s warning letter web page hasn’t been updated since Dec. 27.
Generally the FDA posts a new batch of “recent” warning letters once a week. Sometimes the letters are released for public view within a day or two of being issued. Sometimes its weeks and even months between the day the FDA issues a warning letter and the day it posts that letter for the public.
More than 7,000 of the FDA’s 17,397 employees are furloughed. That’s four out of 10 employees at FDA. For the agency’s complete shutdown staffing situation, see the below chart.
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