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The New York Times
October 9, 2013
WASHINGTON — The government shutdown is endangering what America eats, food safety experts said this week, as all inspections of domestic food except meat and poultry have halted and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recalled furloughed workers to handle a salmonella outbreak that sickened hundreds of people in 18 states. Offices are dark across the federal agencies charged with making sure that the fruit, vegetables, dairy products and a vast array of other domestically produced food are safe to consume. Inspectors, administrative staff, lab technicians, communications specialists and other support staff members have been sent home while lawmakers wrangle over government spending. “This is a self-inflicted wound that is putting people’s health at risk,” said Representative Rosa L. DeLauro, Democrat of Connecticut, a longtime food safety advocate. Because the shutdown comes on top of earlier budget cuts to the agencies, she said, “you’re creating the potential for a real public health crisis.” At the same time, several crucial agriculture reports used by traders and farmers have been canceled because of the shutdown, seriously hampering decision making about planting and disrupting commodities markets. The highest-profile report canceled because of the shutdown is World Agriculture Supply and Demand Estimates, which supplies statistics on the worldwide production of crops from cotton to corn. It also provides data on other agricultural products, including meat and sugar.
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