Tomato recall — Is irradiation the solution?

June 13, 2008

Many types of food can legally be irradiated and sold in the U.S., including beef, poultry, pork, eggs, shellfish, juice and  spices. Yet beef is the only labeled irradiated food currently known to be sold in U.S. grocery stores today, and this in only a few states.

“As stores and restaurants around the country pull tomatoes from shelves and menus in response to the recent salmonella outbreak, American tomato farmers are poised to lose their livelihoods and the food irradiation industry sees dollar signs. So says Wenonah Hauter, Executive director of Food & Water Watch and author of the new book Zapped! Irradiation and the Death of Food. 

“Whenever there’s a food poisoning outbreak, we hear about irradiation as the panacea for foodborne illness, but irradiation is in fact expensive, impractical, and ineffective. Just like irradiating dirty meat doesn’t make it clean or wholesome, irradiating vegetables is impractical and dangerous. Pushing this technology only serves the food industry’s ever-growing appetite to cut costs and increase profits. Rather than deceive the public that ‘zapping’ food will make them safer, the food industry and government must address the real problems in food production — too-fast processing lines, too-long distances for food to travel, and dirty conditions at food processing plants.”

In their book, Hauter and her co-author Mark Worth expose irradiation, long touted as the solution to the growing problem of foodborne illnesses and contamination, as a dangerous practice with too little research to back it up. Packed with resources for the activist as well as nuts-and-bolts facts about irradiation, Zapped! sheds light on the human health, food safety, and economic consequences of irradiating our food.

Take Action: The FDA is considering a rule that would allow the use of the term “pasteurized” on some types of irradiated food and not require any labeling on others. Tell FDA to keep irradiated food labels accurate!

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3 Responses to “Tomato recall — Is irradiation the solution?”

  1. Our government here in the U.S. and most other nations of the world have been irradiating some of our foods increasingly from simple bacon since the mid 1950’s. They say it saves the aggravation of food manufacturers lawsuits from the lessening of process contamination, but does it really work?

    Is Food Irradiation Starving Us?

  2. For a few decades now, the U.S. has been advocating and implementing irradiation of some of our foods, mainly ground beef, chicken and as of late, many of our fruits and vegetables. During much of this time period, public reaction has been predominantly against it and many consumer advocates hope to eventually topple our governments efforts.

    Should We Irradiate Our Foods?

  3. Anonymous Says:

    Never mind that the studies claimed to show normal food irradiation to be dangerous are flawed or that cheaper food is a good thing (is it really right to make people pay more for food just because you think it is more wholesome? Oh wait, you’re one of the people who thinks paying more for so-called ‘organic’ food chemically identical to the cheaper food is a way to get an adequate food supply).

    Given that most of the public doesn’t share your irrational fear of food irradiation removing the Radura symbol from packaging isn’t really something that would be needed to get irradiated foods sold (a lot of people would be looking for it specifically because they want safe food).

    Of course you do need more than just irradiation and it can damage some foods but on the foods it works on it is very effective at reducing the risk of food-borne illness.

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