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Tell the FDA to Back Off From Irradiating Seafood

Posted 12/15/04

Take Action - Tell the FDA Not to Approve Irradiation for Seafood!

An industry trade association, National Fisheries Institute (NFI),
petitioned the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Louisiana
Department of Agriculture and Forestry to allow for the irradiation of
mollusks in 1999. In 2001, NFI filed another petition with the FDA to
allow for the irradiation of crustaceans, including shrimp. FDA is
currently evaluating those petitions, while the industry is pressuring
the agency to move forward and approve the petitions.

Irradiation is the process by which food is exposed to high doses of
radiation kills bacteria and extends the shelf life of food, but destroys vitamins
and creates new chemical compounds. Problems include, but are not
limited to, premature death, fatal internal bleeding, prenatal death,
suppressed immune systems, tumors, stunted growth and nutritional

Irradiation addresses less than seven percent of contamination found in
seafood. In fact, if consumers believe their food to be safe, they are
less likely to follow strict handling and cooking precautions and are
more likely to get sick as a result. If the seafood industry truly wants
to protect consumers, it should educate them about the real sources of
poisonings, instead of offering them a deceptive security blanket.

Send this letter (free) to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration:

The letter, as below:

Lauren Tarantino, Director
Office of Food Additive Safety (HFS-200)
Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition
Food and Drug Administration,
5100 Paint Branch Parkway
College Park, MD 20740-3835
fax: 301-436-2973

Dear Ms. Tarantino:

Re: Docket No. 99F-4372 and Docket No. 01F-0047, amendment of Food
Additive regulations to allow for the irradiation of fresh or frozen
molluscan shellfish and crustaceans and processed crustaceans.

I would like to take this opportunity to express my serious concern
over the petitions currently being considered by the FDA regarding the
irradiation of seafood. In 1999 and 2001, two petitions were submitted
to the FDA Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition by the National
Fisheries Institute to allow for the irradiation of seafood.
Irradiation is not an acceptable option for protecting consumers from
seafood poisoning. Instead, it may cause unnecessary health concerns. I
ask you to not approve this petition.

The level of irradiation necessary to kill naturally-occurring bacteria
in seafood will cause deterioration of texture and juiciness, as
shellfish are delicate foods. Low levels of irradiation cannot kill all
bacteria present in seafood. Irradiation does not obliterate food-borne
viruses that cause more than 9 million people to become sick annually.
It also won¹t cleanse seafood of methylmercury, which causes
neurological birth defects, or of the toxins that cause shellfish
poisoning. More importantly, irradiation will not protect consumers from
the top sources of seafood poisoning: unsafe holding temperature, poor
personal hygiene, inadequate cooking, and contaminated equipment.

Irradiation not only offers consumers a false sense of security, but
also poses a host of health concerns to consumers. Recent research has
shown that one type of chemical created by irradiation,
alkylcyclobutanones, promotes cancer development and genetic damage in
rats and genetic damage in human cells.

As a concerned consumer, I am urging you not to allow the irradiation
of seafood. Thank you for considering my concerns.

Best Regards,
<your name>

Tracy Lerman
Senior Organizer
Public Citizen, California Office
1615 Broadway, 9th Floor
Oakland, CA 94612
ph: 510-663-0888 x 103 f: 510-663-8569