FDA Government Shutdown: 41% of Employees are Furloughed Creating Potential Dangers
According to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), 41% of agency employees are off the job (furloughed) due to the government shutdown. This despite that critical role these employees play in maintaining the health of the American people through: (1) vigilant monitoring of the pharmaceutical and food supply; (2) enforcement of HACCP and GMPs meant to keep food pathogen-free; (3) identification of communicable pathogens in food and deleterious effects of pharmaceuticals; (4) investigation into outbreaks, approval of drugs; and (5) the overall prevention of the occurrence of food poisoning or harmful drugs. According to Geneve Parks, a FDA chemist in a lab that usually houses 34-40 people.
“With the shutdown, surveillance is not effective. They are doing the bare minimum to get by . . It’s terrifying. What if there’s an outbreak? What would the agency do if something happened and they don’t have the staff to handle it?”
The FDA government shutdown crisis will get worse as time goes by. According to Food Poisoning attorney Tony Coveny, Ph.D., author of www.foodrecallsinamerica.com, the absence of chemists and other key figures, especially in the departments of epidemiology, could lead to a serious slow-down in case identification and trace-back efforts that follow monitoring and identification of pathogens in the food supply. In short, Dr. Coveny states, “although we hope this would never happens, people could die if these vital FDA personnel are not allowed to do their jobs.” Just imagine, Coveny noted, if there is another Romaine Lettuce E. coli outbreak like the one in 2018. The consequences of a slow reaction could prolong the outbreak, potentially exposing thousands of consumers to the potentially deadly bacteria.