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Last week's unprecedented recall of 25 million pounds of beef contaminated with the disease-causing Escherichia coli bacteria tells us a good deal about the futility of demanding zero risk in our food supply.The ensuing media frenzy tells us even more about America's naivete concerning food production.

But even more importantly, this incident highlights our government's refusal to allow an efficient, safe technology that could safeguard against food- borne disease: pasteurization, through irradiation. Instead of endorsing this technology to solve the problem once and for all, Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman responded to the meat recall with calls for more federal regulatory authorityincluding power "to order recalls and impose civil fines" on meat processors...

We are currently undergoing an explosive outbreak of Cyclospora, a curious little critter that causes diarrhea. Scientists know almost nothing about it.

Earlier this year, several people got sick from Cyclospora in two separate outbreaks, one from McDonald's salads and another from Del Monte vegetable trays sold at Kwik Trip convenience stores. All together, this year, nearly 2,300 people have gotten sick with Cyclospora, a 270% increase over 2017 and a whopping 1221% increase over 2016. What is going on?

Nobody knows. Not even the CDC. There are no good tools to track the bug genetically, so the only information that public health...

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....

Among other natural items that are dangerous, Salmonella bacteria rank high on the list. Consuming foods contaminated with this bug can be life-threatening — especially for the young, the old, and people with compromised immune systems. While we often think of meats when considering the sources of food-borne illnesses, fruits and vegetables are also on the list.

Consider the recent outbreak of Salmonella linked to a particular brand of Mexican papayas — the yellow Maridol papaya distributed by the Grande Produce company. According to an article in The New York Times, one person has died and 46 others have been sickened...

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.

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...

Media coverage of the disastrous E. coli outbreak in Europe has become a source of both anxiety and relief for Americans: In Germany, nearly 3,000 have fallen ill thus far — 700 with acute kidney failure — and 27 have died, but there’s been no sign that this highly virulent form of E. coli has caused any illness in the U.S.

However, says ACSH's Dr. Gilbert Ross, the European epidemic is something of a wake-up call. While he emphasizes that Europe’s current outbreak should not cause any American to hesitate in the produce section, he does observe that food irradiation needs to be taken more seriously. “If food irradiation were more widely used, both here and in Europe,” he says, I believe that the...

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Much as famine relief organizations are getting tired of ignorant anti-biotech protesters, the grown-ups at the World Health Organization are getting tired of the reckless kids at Ralph Nader's group Public Citizen. The WHO angrily denies Public Citizen's report claiming that irradiating food to kill bacteria is dangerous (see ACSH's booklet on the topic as well):

Gerald Moy, a food safety scientist at WHO, told United Press International he was "pretty miffed" at the charges in the report. "Public Citizen has never provided us with any documentation to support their charges that irradiation does all these...

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,

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...