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How the federal government shut down could impact expecting mothers

GENESEO, Illinois-- The partial federal government shutdown is affecting hundreds of thousands of government workers and that includes employees at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the agency in charge of making sure the food we eat is safe. Now the shutdown could impact expecting mothers.

Making the last minute touches on the baby nursery is a first for expecting mother Jenna Panicucci.

"I am eight-months pregnant. I'm due March 5. We're having a boy," says Panicucci.

Some things for baby are obvious like the crib, changing table and car seat. But other things may be less apparent but maybe even more important.

"It's not something I'm totally freaked out about, but I think it's always better to be safe than sorry," says Panicucci.

Because of the government shut down, some routine food safety inspections have stopped. The FDA is now doing "high risk" assignments only, inspecting things like baby formula, sea food, and fresh produce.

On twitter,  FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb says "taken together, it's smaller than our usual footprint but we're targeting the riskiest products." Gottlieb tweets out of 550 investigators with the Office of Human and Animal Food Operations, more than 200 are currently working.

Knowing fewer eyes are inspecting, Panicucci airs on the side of caution, rinsing each piece of fruit individually.

"We're talking about food, this is stuff you put in your body. So that's pretty important, and you would want someone to be there to make sure they are checking what's going out there," says Panicucci.

The FDA agrees. They suggest people wash and rinse all produce properly, stick to brands you trust and cook at home as much as possible. They say to be especially diligent if you're pregnant, have kids, or have a compromised immune system.

"Since I have another life to think about now, I make sure I'm thorough because you can never be too safe," says Panicucci.

About 150 FDA employees currently working right now are doing so without pay. Gottlieb says more staff could be on the way in the upcoming weeks depending on the need.

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