FDA restarts inspections during shutdown, inspectors working without pay

The Food and Drug Administration has once again started inspecting food facilities, despite the ongoing government shutdown.

Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb announced Monday that furloughed employees at the FDA have agreed to work without pay and begin the inspections that ended when the shutdown began on Dec. 22, The New York Times reported.

The workers are going to be restarting high-risk food inspections, including cheese, other dairy products and some fresh produce.

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Inspections of meat and some egg products continued because the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service workers were required by Congress to continue full USDA inspections, but were also not paid for their work.

Gottlieb’s staff started reaching out to furloughed workers recently. He expected about 700 inspectors out of about 5,000 to return to their jobs, despite not getting a paycheck.

"We got an overwhelming response from our very dedicated and mission-driven field force who are coming back to work unpaid," Gottlieb told NBC News.

In addition to food testing, Gottlieb expects to have all medical product inspections that were affected by the government shutdown to be started by next week, The New York Times reported.

This Oct. 14, 2015, file photo shows the Food and Drug Administration campus in Silver Spring, Md. The FDA says it is resuming inspections of some of the riskiest foods such as cheeses, produce and infant formula as early as Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2019.

Credit: AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File

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Credit: AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File