ACSH staffers this morning lauded Los Angeles Times writer Elena Conis for her comprehensive and informative article on the many benefits of food irradiation, an effective yet underused method of preventing food-borne infection that has been around for the last century. Using low-dose X-rays, electron beams, or gamma rays, food irradiation has the potential to protect a wide variety of products, including produce and meat, and kills toxigenic E. coli as well.

Even though neither the electron-beams nor X-rays used in food irradiation contain radioactive elements, all irradiated food must be labelled with an...

In light of the latest recall of ground beef because of contamination by potentially lethal E. coli O157:H7 bacteria, scientists and physicians associated with the American Council on Science and Health today urged consumers to demand that such products be irradiated to prevent future illnesses.

On July 19, the USDA expanded an earlier recall of ground meat products produced by ConAgra to include approximately 19 million pounds of ground beef products. Thus far, nineteen people have been reported to have become ill after consuming ground beef produced by ConAgra between April 12 and July 11, 2002.

E. coli O157:H7 is a particularly virulent strain of bacteria that was responsible for causing the deaths of four children and illnesses in hundreds of people who ate...

On October 27 the New York Times published a story from the Associated Press newswire stating that the USDA had approved the used of irradiated meat in the national School Lunch Program. We here at ACSH applauded the move, since it would help protect some of the most vulnerable parts of the population from bacterial contamination of meats. We even posted a press release to that effect. But don't look for the press release today we had to take it down, because the AP story wasn't true.

The real situation, according to authorities at the USDA, is somewhat different. The USDA provides about 20% of the meat used in the School Lunch Program. Until passage of last year's farm bill, they were not allowed to use irradiated beef. But the farm bill specified that USDA must take...

The American Council on Science and Health (ACSH) urges the U.S. Postal Service to consider using irradiation technology to sanitize mail and thus protect workers and the public from bioterrorism. ACSH is a public health consortium of over 350 leading physicians and scientists.

Just in the last few days, finding anthrax spores in a letter sent to Senator Tom Daschle led to the closing of both houses of Congress temporarily. Two postal workers have died of inhalation anthrax, and many more are being tested. Clearly, since other pieces of mail in New York City as well as Washington, DC, are known to have carried anthrax spores, the situation warrants rapid action to guard against further contamination and exposure.

The technology exists to safeguard the mail irradiation....

This summer saw the comic book character the Incredible Hulk turned into a so-so movie. It strikes me that the beloved gamma-irradiated behemoth combines two common but false fears about biology: (1) that radiation causes completely unpredictable, bizarre transformations and (2) that extra body mass can somehow materialize without any extra mass being consumed by the body.

The first fear is more familiar, a staple of monster movies since shortly after the first atomic bomb blast in 1945. The second is more an implicit fear that shows in some of the strange, counterintuitive things people say about dieting. More on that later.

Radiation can cause cancer or other mutations by breaking DNA strands in a fashion something like tossing pebbles through an elaborate and...

A May 1, 2005 article by Steve Wartenberg in The Morning Call mentions ACSH as a counterpoint to fears about irradiated beef:

Because of the efforts of grass-roots groups across the country, led by Public Citizen and local activists such as Szela and Stein, consumers have so far said ''no'' to irradiated beef.

''There is a big movement against irradiated meat that has had an impact on the market,'' said Wood, whose company's cold-food storage business continues to thrive.

Ron Eustes, executive director of the Minnesota Beef Council, said 18 million to 20 million pounds of ground...

February 12, 2007, New York, NY— Does anyone at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ever watch the PBS program “The News Hour?” They certainly should—on February 8 the program’s segment on food irradiation gave ample reason for the agency to approve irradiation of produce to kill illness-causing (pathogenic) bacteria.

A decade ago, the usual culprits for bacteria-related food-borne illness were foods such as meat and poultry. There were numerous outbreaks of illness—and indeed some deaths—from foods contaminated by E. coli, salmonella and campylobacter, to name just a few. Of late, however, we have seen E. coli contamination of plant-derived foods such as alfalfa sprouts, green onions, and most recently spinach and lettuce. Since these foods are consumed raw...

A Grist reader heard about irradiation and wanted to know if food irradiation is good enough that we could go back to having rare hamburgers, soft-boiled eggs and unpasteurized milk?

Grist came to ACSH for guidance and we were happy to help. Now if only they would listen on GMOs.

New York, NY May 1, 1998. The American Council on Science and Health (ACSH) today stated that the recent recall of more than one-quarter million pounds of ground beef emphasizes the need for a safety step that can be applied at the final stage of ground meat processing. That step is irradiation.

ACSH notes that only irradiation and no other safety process such as steam or ozone processing can be applied to ground beef after it is packaged. Stated Dr. Ruth Kava, ACSH director of nutrition, The unique benefit of irradiation is that it is done at the end of processing, so it's less likely that contaminated ground beef will leave the plant.

The largest American meat packer, IBP Inc., tried to recall the ground beef when it was notified that the U.S. Department of Agriculture...

Would you pay a premium to keep your family from getting the food-borne illnesses that sicken 48 million Americans and kill 3,000 more each year?

You probably just thought, "yes, of course."

What if it the technology to do so were endorsed by the World Health Organization and the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and it meant you could cook your hamburger as rare as you like without concern?

Now, you might have probably thought, "Even better!"

Actually, that technology already exists. But the same environmental groups that give a "health halo" to the meaningless process that produces...