A man shops for vegetables beside Romaine lettuce stocked and for sale at a supermarket in Los Angeles, California, on May 2, 2018, where the first death from an E coli contaminated Romaine lettuce outbreak was reported.

Enlarge / A man shops for vegetables beside Romaine lettuce stocked and for sale at a supermarket in Los Angeles, California, on May 2, 2018, where the first death from an E coli contaminated Romaine lettuce outbreak was reported. (credit: Getty | FREDERIC J. BROWN)

After a year plagued by deadly E. coli outbreaks linked to widely distributed romaine lettuce, 2019 is off to an anxiety-inducing start.

With hundreds of food inspectors furloughed in the ongoing government shutdown, the Food and Drug Administration has suspended all routine inspections of domestic food processing facilities. That’s according to FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, who revealed the news in an interview with the Washington Post published Wednesday.

Gottlieb said that the agency, which oversees about 80 percent of the food supply, is continuing to surveil foreign manufacturers and imported food, as well as any domestic producers involved in a current recall or outbreak.

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