Sunday, August 24, 2008

FDA to allow irradiation of produce

I read a story on the San Francisco Chronicle's website this afternoon about the FDA's recent decision to permit the irradiation of fresh spinach and iceberg lettuce (i.e. it's being permitted, but not required). The reasoning behind it is that it will kill any possible E. coli or salmonella on these leafy vegetables. These aren't the only irradiated foods that will be permitted on the US market. The irradiation of many animal products, as well as of dried spices has been permitted for some time. Labeling indicating the foods in question had been irradiated was required, however, which limited the number of producers wanting to indulge themselves in using this technology for food processing. So? Now the FDA is thinking of changing the labeling requirement altogether -- basically, to leave consumers in the dark so that they're unable to choose for themselves. Now applications are apparently pouring in for permission to irradiate other types of lettuce and vegetables.

Critics say that not enough testing has been done on the safety of irradiating food, or on its effects on food's nutritional value. I'm wondering, myself, what effects irradiating food would have on phytonutrients in it, for instance. There's so much about nutrition that we still don't understand, especially in terms of synergy.

The Organic Consumers Association featured a story on this that definitely presents an anti-FDA side of it. It also seems to indicate that the irradiation is already being allowed to proceed without labeling. Hopefully, I'll be able to dig up some clarification on this over the next few days. As of today, there was nothing on the FDA's press release page on their decision.

No comments: