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.