Beware Scares about Irradiated Food Risks

Article excerpt

FASTEN your seat belts American food shoppers. You may soon be assaulted by a propaganda blitz designed to scare you into thinking that irradiated food - that is, products preserved by ionizing radiation - may kill you.

Never mind that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States and the United Nations World Health Organization find no health risk in foods irradiated by approved commercial procedures. The anti-irradiation pressure group Food and Water Inc., based in New York, reportedly is willing to stretch lingering doubts about irradiation's effects to an unwarranted extreme this summer to stop Vindicator of Florida Inc. from becoming the first United States company to market irradiated fruits and vege tables.

This particular battle has been brewing since the FDA approved irradiation for processing some foods and then added chickens to the list last year. It reflects the larger international fight that irradiation's opponents have been waging for a number of years. Major American food processing companies have shied away from irradiation because of this controversy. Now that Vindicator is ready to break the ice, Food and Water Inc. is so determined to stop it they are trying to frighten away possible customers with needlessly alarming 60-second radio spots.

In fact, propaganda makes it hard for consumers worldwide to know what to think about the safety issue. Irradiation's promoters and detractors both pitch their "information" with self-serving bias.

Several decades of research have shown irradiation to be an effective method for preserving a variety of foods. …

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