The last few months have seen a number of outbreaks related to food contamination in the United States, and it looks like things could be about to get even worse.
The partial government shutdown, which has been going strong for almost three weeks now, has left nearly one million federal employees in a state of financial uncertainty. That includes approximately 41 percent of the employees working for the Food and Drug Administration, according to the New York Times.
Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the FDA's commissioner, spoke on Wednesday about the effects that the shutdown is having on the federal agency. Gottlieb warned that the FDA has been forced to stop their routine inspections of certain high-risk foods, including seafood, fruit, and vegetables. Meat and poultry is still being inspected by the agency, but those doing so are working under deferred pay schedules.
All overseas imports are still being inspected as well.
Dr. Gottlieb has said he is hoping to find a way to bring another 150 employees back to work, but is conscious of how it may affect them personally -- considering they won't be given their back pay until the shutdown ends.
"These are people who are now furloughed and can collect unemployment insurance or take a second job. If we pull them in and tell them they have to work, they can't collect. I have to make sure I'm not imposing an undue hardship."