With only two thirds of its staff still working, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reduced the number of inspections starting in December. But food production is still happening without those routine inspections.
Felicia Wu, a food science professor at MSU, says things should be fine as long as companies stick to the FDA guidelines without the agency’s supervision.
“The food processing facilities are still operating,” Wu said. “We would like to believe that they know how to comply with food safety regulations even if an FDA inspector is not coming by to make sure that everything is running according to guidelines.
“That said, we don’t know if that is always the case and we don’t know if in some case where there might be a risk of…some kind of food contaminant that is just not being caught.”
But officials from Ingham County say there hasn’t been a huge impact on the local level.
“For us, we locally have food inspectors that go out into restaurants,” Deputy Health Officer Debbie Edokpolo says. “Our work continues, business as usual.”
Wu says city, county and state agencies around the country have to take that initiative to keep food safe, and to avoid outbreaks like last year’s romaine lettuce contamination.
“It’s wonderful to know that they are there,” Wu says of local agencies, “that they care about this issue, that they recognize how important food safety is to prevent any sort of food-borne disease outbreak. We had enough of these last year. It really made a splash in the news and…you don’t want to get sick from your food.”
Wu adds that the best thing people can do is to stick to the same food safety guidelines they use year-round, including proper washing of all fruits and vegetables and cooking meat to the right temperatures.