Organic Consumers Association

Groups want change in irradiated beef plan

Posted on Wed, Mar. 19, 2003

Groups want change in irradiated beef plan

Five activist groups have called on the U.S. Department of Agriculture to
end, or amend, a Minnesota pilot program on public acceptance of irradiated
beef being conducted at three school districts.

In a letter released Tuesday to Eric Bost, undersecretary for Food,
Nutrition and Consumer Services, the five groups call on USDA to end the
program or expand it to include critics and other parties interested in the
technology or food safety issues. The letter said several partners in the
pilot project may have conflicts of interest in promoting use of
irradiation. The Minnesota Department of Children, Families and Learning and
the Minnesota Beef Research and Promotion Council are also partners in the
project with SureBeam Corp., the San Diego maker of irradiation technology.

Signing the letter to Bost were officials of Minnesota-based organizations
Clean Water Action Alliance, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy and
Organic Consumers Association, and Washington, D.C.-based Government
Accountability Project and Public Citizen.

The three school districts testing public acceptance of irradiated beef in
school lunch programs are at Sauk Rapids, Willmar and Spring Lake Park.
Irradiation is a microwave-like process that kills bacteria that may cause
food-borne illnesses.

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