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Oct. 11, 2013 -- Food safety is one of the casualties of the U.S. government shutdown, experts warn.

The doors are locked at federal agencies in charge of making sure that fruit, vegetables, dairy products and a wide range of other U.S.-made food items are safe to consume.

"This is a self-inflicted wound that is putting people's health at risk," Representative Rosa DeLauro, Democrat of Connecticut, told The New York Times.

Because the shutdown comes on top of earlier budget cuts to the agencies, there is "the potential for a real public health crisis," the longtime food safety advocate said.

The Food and Drug Administration, which inspects most of the food that Americans eat, has gone from a target of inspecting about 200 food plants per week to none, and has also cut back on inspections of imported food, The Times reported.

And the Agriculture Department has closed a meat and poultry hotline that consumers can call for information about food safety or to report problems.

WebMD News from HealthDay

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