Government shutdown impacting FDA inspection

Ninety percent of the shrimp we eat in America is imported, much of it from Thailand and India

HOUSTON - The Food and Drug Administration is the agency that inspects shrimp, but its food safety inspectors are on furlough. Food experts say that means more tainted shrimp may get passed on to your dinner plate.

According to Dr. Jay Neal of the University of Houston food and safety, the list of foods the FDA inspects is long, but one of the higher risk foods on the list is shrimp.

Ninety percent of the shrimp we eat in American is imported, much of it from Thailand and India.

"They inspect about 80 plants a day. That's quite a bit," said Neal.

Now, the FDA is not inspecting any of the foreign seafood coming into our country.

"Right now, I think we're OK, because we're only four days into it," said Neal.

All of the imported shrimp is frozen, so Neal said much of what we see at the store and in restaurants likely passed inspection before the government shut down, but according to Neal, if the furloughs continue  another week or two, he'll be more concerned about the safety of our shrimp.

"Because then we start getting into really three weeks into the process and if we're getting deliveries in a month out, we're into it then, so we need to end this soon," Neal said.

According to Neal, if there is a food bourne illness outbreak, it would take the government longer to trace the source right now, and the FDA is not in a position to issue recalls.

The USDA inspects beef and steak products. Those inspectors are still working through the shutdown.

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