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Sonali Gunawardhana Discusses Government Shutdown’s Impact on FDA Food Safety Division

Politico Pro
October 21, 2013

Sonali P. Gunawardhana, an attorney in Wiley Rein’s Food & Drug Law Practice, was quoted in an October 17 Politico Pro article about the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) efforts to resume its food-safety operations following the government shutdown.

About 90 percent of employees at the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN) were furloughed during the 16-day shutdown that ended October 17, according to the article.

It may take CFSAN’s 900 employees at least three weeks to get back up to speed, said Ms. Gunawardhana, who served as regulatory counsel at the FDA for nearly a decade before joining Wiley Rein last year.  “I think there will be a ripple effect,” she told Politico Pro.

Ms. Gunawardhana recalled that in 2011, while she was working in CFSAN’s policy division, the FDA spent weeks planning for a shutdown that ended up being averted at the 11th hour.

“When I worked at FDA, I got 200 emails a day,” she said.  “It’s going to take the staff some time to re-acclimate to working and figure out which projects are now the highest priority.”