The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has admitted its programme of inspections has been affected by the shutdown of government bodies in the country.

The body which oversees site inspections and has a brief to maintain food-related health and safety standards, has been forced to abandon all but the most high-risk inspections as a result of the federal shutdown caused by President Trump’s ongoing battle with Congress, which is refusing to sanction billions of dollars’ worth of funding for his planned border ‘wall’ between America and Mexico.

Speaking to NBC News, FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb said: “There’s no question of whether it’s business as usual at FDA.

“It’s not business as usual, and we are not doing all the things we would do under normal circumstances. There are important things we are not doing.”

Expanding on this on his Twitter account, Gottlieb wrote yesterday (9 January): “But we’re not putting a stop to high-risk surveillance food inspections. We should resume scheduling them next week, maybe earlier. We judged these, for good reason, to fall within excepted activity. The low-risk surveillance inspections, however, will be stopped.”

US media sources suggest foreign food inspections are continuing but the FDA has virtually stopped inspecting domestic food production facilities.

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According to NBC, the agency will have to force furloughed workers to come back without pay.

Much of the FDA’s budget is appropriated by Congress, and is on hold. About 7,000 of the agency’s 17,000 employees, or 41% of staff, are furloughed, according to US media reports.

Earlier this week President Trump stormed out of a meeting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer over the shutdown, calling it “a total waste of time”.