Partner Glenn Pogust Weighs in on Food Industry Response to Government Shutdown in Food Quality & Safety

October 18, 2013

Food Quality & Safety reports on the potential impact of the government shutdown on food safety issues, as many regulators, inspectors and other food safety workers were placed on furlough during the shutdown. When the Center for Disease Control announced a multistate Salmonella outbreak on October 8, many in the media wondered if the absence of these workers was endangering the safety of the United States’ food supply.

According to Kaye Scholer Product Liability Partner Glenn Pogust, “In the absence of government inspectors, responsibility for the documentation of safe practices falls to industry.”

Pogust continues, “With the shutdown, even responsible producers, processors, and importers have lost the assumption of safe practices that the imprimatur of positive FDA inspections provides.” He adds, “Normally in a civil liability suit the plaintiff has the burden of proof, but in the eyes of a jury, in the event of a food product contamination, the processor or seller will have the burden of proving they did the right thing.”

While the shutdown has recently come to an end, Pogust points out that this situation could continue for a period of time due to the backlog of inspections that accumulated during the shutdown. “In the coming weeks and months, processors will be faced with the argument that the FDA wasn’t able to do its job, that inspectors were rushed and trying to make up time,” he says.

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