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Organic Consumers Association

FDA's New Food Safety Act Encourages Food Irradiation

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Food Safety Research Center page and our Stop Food Irradiation Project page.

Is this the FDA's idea of food safety? Action Alert!

The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) became law in 2010. We, along with other consumer groups, were able to block some of the worst provisions of the proposed bill, but it was still flawed legislation as passed. The basic problem is that every time food safety problems emerge, the government gives a pass to the big industrial farms where the problems originate.

The FDA has just proposed two new rules as part of the act's implementation. Not surprisingly they appear to have been heavily influenced by the same special interests responsible for many of the dangers to our foods: the chemical, radiology, and meat industries are exempted, all in the name of food safety.

The first of the rules concerns standards for raw agricultural commodities (RAC). The reasoning behind the exclusive focus on raw foods is that processed food is less likely to be contaminated. Never mind how unhealthy processed food is so long as the food is not contaminated.

The FDA's big idea seems to be irradiation. Irradiated foods are exempted because FDA believes nuked, sterile food is safer. The agency is apparently not concerned with what happens to the food's nutritional value or whether the irradiation itself is safe. How many food producers, hoping to avoid burdensome and expensive compliance requirements, will simply irradiate their fruits and vegetables? With such onerous rules combined with this big loophole, the FDA is actively encouraging irradiation.

There are many reasons irradiated food is bad for us. There are no federal standards for safe levels of radiation in sterilized food, and research indicates a wide range of problems in animals that eat irradiated food, including chromosomal abnormalities, a rare form of cancer, and even premature death. Irradiating food can kill bacteria from filthy CAFOs and processing plants, but it cannot address the other unhealthy conditions found there. Irradiation may also dramatically change flavor, odor, and texture of food, in addition to nutritional value.


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