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Following several recent outbreaks of foodborne illness from salad greens in the U.S., the fresh produce industry is looking for ways to more reliably ensure that its lettuce and spinach are safe for consumption.

A recent study published in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology examines one such method: electron-beam irradiation. Researchers from the collaborative study that included Texas A&M University inoculated samples of iceberg lettuce and baby spinach with either poliovirus or rotavirus two viruses that humans can contract from contaminated food. Electron-beam irradiation was then applied to the greens, successfully inactivating the viruses and significantly...

On May 29, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released specifications for purchase of irradiated ground beef for use in school lunches, though the decision to order irradiated beef will be made by local school districts. The American Council on Science and Health (ACSH), a consortium of more than 350 physicians and scientists, urges local school boards and parents to familiarize themselves with the safety benefits of the irradiated ground beef that is now available for the National School Lunch Program.

Irradiation of red meat was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) late in 1997, the USDA established rules for its use in 1999, and food processors have been slowly adopting the process. Recently, a number of large supermarkets, fast food outlets, and direct...

New York, NY June 19, 1998. The American Council on Science and Health (ACSH) today announced its support for the use of irradiation as a fruit and vegetable quarantine process and applauded the planned construction of an irradiation facility near Hilo on the Big Island of Hawaii.

It is important for consumers to understand that food irradiation is a safe process,

The American Council on Science and Health (ACSH) today called on the Food and Drug Administration to approve irradiation of beef to limit Americans' exposure to E. coli bacteria

ACSH noted that a petition to the FDA has been pending since 1994 to authorize the use of irradiation on beef but no action yet has been taken. At least five children have died from eating E. coli -contaminated Jack-in-the-Box hamburgers, and there have been at least 12 cases of illnesses due to the latest incident that resulted in a recall of 25 million pounds of hamburger by Hudson Beef. Dr. Elizabeth M. Whelan, ACSH President noted that, "Had irradiation been used, these deaths and illnesses could have been avoided. But the government has failed to properly react to the situation. Instead of...

The use of food technology to solve public health problems has a long and impressive history. Three important examples are the pasteurization of milk, the fortification of foods to prevent nutritional deficiencies, and the use of irradiation to enhance microbiological safety and to kill pests in foods.

Although innovations from food technology have contributed to the increased availability of abundant and tasty...

This month, attorney John Banzhaf, who for years has litigated against tobacco, purportedly in an effort to protect public health, announced his intention to solve another public-health problem obesity by suing fast-food restaurants.

Banzhaf declared that cigarettes were not, after all, the only legally available product that is both addictive and hazardous when used as intended, and that cigarette manufacturers were not the only ones who covered up the hazards of their product.

Of course, Banzhaf's argument that so-called "fast food" fare, like cigarettes, is addictive and causes illness and death is ludicrous. Food supports life and only contributes to obesity when it is overused, that is, when we consume more calories (regardless of the source) than are...

The American Council on Science and Health (ACSH), applauded President George W. Bush for nominating Dr. Elsa Murano for the office of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA'S) Undersecretary for Food Safety.

Dr. Murano is the director of the Center for Food Safety at Texas A&M University. Her research on food safety has included studies of a variety of disease-causing organisms, including E. coli O157: H7. She is a recognized expert on the use of irradiation to improve the safety of foods, and has edited and authored books on that topic.

The Senate must confirm Dr. Murano's nomination as undersecretary before she can assume the office. The USDA is responsible for overseeing the production, inspection, grading, and safety of meat and poultry products. It has...

To the Editor:

It is distressing that the USDA, by attempting to legally define "organic", has granted legitimacy to the concept that so-called "organic" food is any safer or better than conventionally produced foods (Regulators Nearing Tougher Standard for Organic Food, pg. B13, 3/6/00).

By excluding genetically modified crops and irradiated foods from being classed as organic, USDA is supporting the myth that such conventionally produced or treated foods are less safe or nutritious than those that qualify for an organic label. It is thus giving government sanction to an unscientific dichotomy between conventionally-produced and other foods.

The USDA should be encouraging the use of any technologies that can improve the efficiency of food production and the...

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that it will make fundamental revision to its proposed national standards for organic foods. Its backtracking is in response to thousands of written comments that indicated dissatisfaction on the part of organic adherents. Proponents objected to the fact that the proposed rule did not, for example, forbid the use of either genetically engineered products or food irradiation. The new rule will, presumably, disallow these processes.

USDA will thus ignore the scientific evidence that such processes are safe, and instead enforce a belief system promoted by many with near religious fervor rather than focus on food safety and wholesomeness.

Proponents of organic agriculture focus on how food is produced and handled to...

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that it will make fundamental revision to its proposed national standards for organic foods. Its backtracking is in response to thousands of written comments that indicated dissatisfaction on the part of organic adherents. Proponents objected to the fact that the proposed rule did not, for example, forbid the use of either genetically engineered products or food irradiation. The new rule will, presumably, disallow these processes.

USDA will thus ignore the scientific evidence that such processes are safe, and instead enforce a belief system promoted by many with near religious fervor rather than focus on food safety and wholesomeness.

Proponents of organic agriculture focus on how food is produced and handled to...