Food safe despite partial government shutdown: Agriculture secretary

By Food and BeverageFOXBusiness

Agriculture Secretary on partial government shutdown: Not shortcutting any type of food safety issues at USDA

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue on aid for farmers, addresses concerns the partial government shutdown could impact food safety and how technology continues to improve efficiency in farming.

Inspections of meat, poultry and egg products are continuing despite the partial government shutdown, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Sonny Perdue, who said it’s business as usual.

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“The USDA is responsible for all of our protein processes — that’s poultry, beef, pork and others and they’re on the job,” Perdue told FOX Business’ Maria Bartiromo on Monday. “We’re not short cutting any type of food safety issues here at USDA and our meat processing.

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However, the partial government shutdown, which is now the longest in U.S. history, has reduced the number of FDA routine safety inspections. The FDA is responsible for 80 percent of the country’s food supply, except for meat and eggs.

“[The] FDA does more of an audit type of process where they may visit more routinely over a period of time,” Perdue added.  “So I think from a food safety perspective, these [USDA employees] are considered essential people and they’re on the job working each and every day.”

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Last week, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said the agency is working to reinstate inspections of domestic food facilities that are considered high-risk items, including seafood and vegetables.

“We’re taking steps to expand the scope of food safety surveillance inspections we’re doing during the shutdown to make sure we continue inspecting high-risk food facilities,” Gottlieb said in a tweet.

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