WASHINGTON – The federal government shutdown has restricted some US Department of Agriculture activities, but meat and poultry inspections and other food safety functions will continue, according to the agency's contingency plan.

Functions USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service will perform through the shutdown include:

• Inspecting before and after slaughter those birds and animals intended for use as food for humans and supervising the further processing of meat and poultry products.

• Ensuring that meat, poultry, and egg products are safe and preventing the movement or sale in commerce of any meat or poultry products which are adulterated.

• Applying foreign governments’ inspection requirements and procedures to verify that products exported from the United States are safe.

• Conducting emergency operations in connection with the voluntary recall of meat or poultry products contaminated with drug or chemical residues, other adulterants, or microbial contamination.

• Conducting epidemiological investigations based on reports of food-borne health hazards and disease outbreaks.

• Monitoring allied industries to prevent uninspected or adulterated meat, poultry and egg products from illegally entering channels of commerce.

• Providing pathological, microbiological, chemical, and other scientific examination of meat, poultry and egg products for disease, infection, contamination, or other types of adulteration.

• Conducting a microbiological monitoring and surveillance program.

The Food and Drug Administration will be unable to support the majority of its food safety activities such as routine establishment inspections, some compliance and enforcement activities, monitoring of imports, notification programs (e.g. food contact substances, infant formula), and the majority of the laboratory research necessary to inform public health decision-making.

The 698 FDA staff that will be “excepted” from the furloughs “for the protection of human life” include 578 staff to inspect regulated products and manufacturers, conduct sample analysis on products and review imports offered for entry into the United States. This number includes active investigators who will be needed to perform inspections, recall operations, emergency response, review import entries and make admissibility decisions.