Radiation Of Our Food Supply. Good or Bad?

BlogHer Original Post

In response to recent salmonella outbreaks, the FDA has approved the irradiation of produce.

Question...Is this supposed to make me feel better about eating produce? If so, it's not really working that well.

What do you think? Does the benefit outweigh the risk? If you could choose between irradiated or non-irradiated produce, what one would you choose? What one would you want to feed your children?

From The New York Times...

The government will allow food producers to zap fresh spinach and iceberg lettuce with enough radiation to kill micro-organisms like E. coli and salmonella that for decades have caused widespread illness among consumers.

It is the first time the Food and Drug Administration has allowed any produce to be irradiated at levels needed to protect against illness.

"This is probably one of the single most significant food safety actions done for fresh produce in many years," said Robert Brackett, chief scientist for the Grocery Manufacturers Association, which petitioned the agency in 2000 to allow manufacturers to irradiate a wide variety of processed meats, fruits and vegetables and prepared foods.

Advocates for food safety condemned the agency's decision and asserted that irradiation could lower nutritional value, create unsafe chemicals and ruin taste.

Well, it didn't take me long to find other women bloggers questioning the safety of this practice.

From CityMom...

Per today's New York Times, the Food and Drug Administration has decided to let produce suppliers irradiate some of our fruits and vegetables, ostensibly to destroy dangerous food-borne bacteria. Depending on where you stand, this is either a huge knee-jerk reaction or smart preventive measure.

From Choosing Voluntary Simplicty...

According to the Associated Press report, the FDA has decided that small doses of radiation will not only kill E. coli, listeria and salmonella on these two greens, the radiation will also give them a longer shelf life. And...they insist that the nutrient value and texture will remain the same.

Even if these claims are true… and many experts dispute them...I personally am still completely opposed to irradiating any of our food products. And yes, I am also aware that the groups pushing to have our food supply irradiated insist that it is completely safe and that no trace of radiation remains on the food. I still don’t want the food my family eats to have been exposed to ANY radiation treatments, and I don’t care how small the dose is. Apparently I am not alone… according to recent surveys, almost two thirds of the people in this country are against food irradiation and say they will not knowingly eat any food that has been irradiated.

Instead of setting up an expensive and controversial irradiation program, why doesn't the FDA enforce stricter cleanliness standards for the growers and processors? Wouldn’t it make more sense to prevent the produce from being contaminated, instead of just accepting the contamination and trying to kill it with radiation?

From Susan at Agricultural Law...

Sometimes, we should trust our instincts.

I should begin by saying that I am a huge fan of science, and I am astounded by the cool things that we have learned to do thanks to creative scientists who "think out of the box" and question our assumptions and challenge our instincts.

Sometimes, however, science offers us the opportunity to do things that our instincts tell us we should not do. I would put the cloning of animals for meat production in this category. Similarly, we have now learned what many people instinctively knew or should have known - that you should not have animals eating their own species (e.g., mad cow disease being spread by cattle eating the remains of cattle).

From Green Mamma...

So the FDA is now allowing food producers to zap our food. Specifically, food producers will expose spinach and lettuce to irradiation, using enough radiation to kill E. coli and dangerous germs, which meat and poultry producers already do.

I have to be honest. I do not know the ins and outs of irradiation. Fortunately, what I do know is how to google "irradiation," to help me begin my education and understanding of the various arguments made for and against the radiation of food. As is the case with other food debates (organic versus conventional foods versus GM foods), there are 2 prevalent points of view. On the one side seems to be food producers and their supporters who consider irradiation a way to help prevent food borne illnesses, spoiling and infestation of foods. Supporters of irradiation see it as a practical way to increase the shelf life of foods that have a tendency to spoil. Of course, opponents to irradiation consider it a method for concealing poor agricultural and sanitation practices. Other concerns had by opponents to irradiation include worker safety, the effect of radiation on food and seeds, and the safety of consuming foods treated with radiation.

From Laura at The Garden Pages...

One more reason to grow your own!

See? You don't have to worry about filthy conditions in the fields or un-enforced health and labor codes in the processing plant - just nuke it!

I know, us organic gardeners are all 'nutty'. What does a tree-hugger (planter, tender and caretaker) know about radiation in food processing? Not much and I'd like to keep it that way if you know what I mean.

From Carla Golden's Get Healthier Blog...

Starting August 22nd, your fresh vegetables may now be irradiated without your knowledge. The FDA has unleashed a new rule allowing food companies to secretly irradiate lettuce and spinach, and there is NO requirement that these foods be labeled with a warning label! The FDA is also looking to expand this to other vegetables such as tomatoes, peppers and onions. Soon, ALL vegetables may be irradiated.

Why does this matter? Because irradiation destroys phytonutrients, including anti-cancer nutrients that are protecting your health right now. With this rule, the FDA is literally killing the food supply!

This NaturalNews.com feature story reveals full details about this crime against nature and the FDA's desperate measures to destroy the national food supply and sicken Americans.

From The Courageous Cook...

Well the FDA has agreed to allow food producers to ZAP fresh spinach and lettuce with enough radiation to kill microorganisms like E. Coli and salmonella. This sounds like a good idea to me after the whole scare in 2006. But are there hidden consequences? I mean think about it---Radiation? I always get a little freaked out with that lead apron they put on me in the dentist office and truly why does the hygenist have to leave the room? I've done just enough research on this to almost make me swear off lettuce. Critics say that the radiation will make food less nutritious and that most of the illnesses caused by lettuce are from viruses. Really I could have done without knowing that.

How do you feel about the FDA approving the irradiation of produce? Let me know in comments.

Contributing Editor Catherine Morgan
at catherine-morgan.com, The Political Voices of Women, Care2 Election


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