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An overwhelming body of scientific data indicates that irradiated food is safe, nutritious, and wholesome. Health authorities worldwide, including leading national and international scientific organizations, have based their approvals of food irradiation on the results of sound scientific research.

Irradiation increases the safety profile and the availability of a variety of foods. The safety of food irradiation has been studied more extensively than that of any other food preservation process. As is true of other food processes, irradiation can lead to chemical changes in food.

Radiolytic products (compounds formed by radiation), are similar to compounds formed by heat treatment. None of these products, in the amounts found in irradiated foods, has been demonstrated to...

First Edition, October 1982

Second Edition (revised and updated), July 1985

Third Edition (revised and updated), December 1988

Fourth Edition (revised and updated), March 1996

Revised and updated by Paisan Loaharanu, M.S. International Consultant Former Head Food and Environmental Protection Section Joint FAO/IAEA Division, Vienna, Austria

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Irradiated foods dangerous? Here we go again. And this time, it isn't the media sounding the health (scare) alarm but members of the science community. Which just goes to show, having a medical degree does not guarantee a degree of rationality.

In a July 2004 letter to the New England Journal of Medicine, Dr.s McNally and Donohoe criticize two reports on the benefits of food irradiation, one by an international leader in the field of infectious disease, the other by a retired USDA microbiologist.1,2,3 McNally and Donohoe's correspondence questions the safety and efficacy of food irradiation, despite the wealth of evidence against such concerns.

Why We Fight Pathogens

An estimated 76 million cases of foodborne diseases,...

For some reason, Marion Burros of the New York Times seems to have it in for food irradiation. In an article published in the Times on January 29 ("The Question of Irradiated Beef in Lunchrooms"), Ms. Burros and some authorities she quotes mislead readers about the proposed irradiation of beef used in school lunch programs.

Contrary to her opinion, food irradiation has indeed been quite widely tested over the past five decades. These tests included feeding studies, across multiple generations, of several species of animals with diets composed mostly or solely of irradiated foods. While such animal tests are...

Irradiated foods 2007 Cover New York, NY -- July 9, 2007. Multiple recent cases of bacterial contamination of the food supply make it imperative that all effective means of sanitizing both animal and plant products be used, including the use of food irradiation. Physicians and scientists associated with the American Council on Science and Health (ACSH) emphatically endorse the use of irradiation, to enhance safety and complement other food protection methods, in an updated booklet posted on the ACSH website.

The...

A Mother s Day garden party at an upstate New York Buddhist monastery took a turn for the worse after 150 attendees fell ill with food poisoning and many had to be hospitalized. And while it seems as though we re always reading about the latest food-borne outbreak (recent stories included listeria-tainted cantaloupe and salmonella-tainted eggs), in reality, the rate of food-borne illness in the U.S. fell by almost 25 percentsince the late 1990s, according to a new report from the CDC.

That doesn t mean, however, that there s no room for improvement, especially since recent statistics indicate that the rate has remained stagnant between 2006 and 2010. And although the CDC researchers included six types...

A February 25, 2007 article notes the opposition of the activist group Food & Water Watch to making food safer through irradiation and notes ACSH's quite different position:

Although the U.S. Food & Drug Administration has approved irradiation of many foods, Food & Water Watch claims the supporting data were "paltry and flawed."

Weighing in to support irradiation is the American Council on Science and Health, which yesterday said irradiation "could greatly reduce illness from foodborne pathogens and make our already safe food supply even safer."

See also: ACSH's full report on...

Over 50 years of scientific research have established that the irradiation of foods to minimize food-borne illness and decrease waste is both safe and effective. Physicians and scientists associated with the American Council on Science and Health (ACSH) endorse the use of irradiation to enhance safety and supplement other food protection methods.

These and other facts about food irradiation are spelled out in the latest (fifth) edition of Irradiated Foods, a revised booklet published by ACSH and updated by Paisan Loaharanu, M.S. (former Head of the Food and Environmental Protection Section of the Joint Division of Nuclear Techniques in Food and Agriculture of the FAO and IAEA, Vienna,...

The massive outbreaks of E. coli 0157:H7 in spinach and lettuce in 2006 caused several deaths and hundreds of illnesses and devastated the produce industry. Since then, the FDA has been under increasing pressure to approve the petition -- submitted in 1999 -- to allow irradiation of ready-to-eat food. Irradiation technology could be used to ensure microbiological safety of fresh produce. Some national TV networks and many popular and scientific articles (including one by this author) demanded that irradiation be used to provide the necessary "kill step" for pathogens in fresh produce.

In March 2008, Dr. S. Sandlof, Director of the FDA Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, testified at a Congressional subcommittee hearing to launch legislation on food safety...

Canada recently (finally) approved the use of irradiation to safeguard fresh and frozen ground beef. The United States has allowed its use for that purpose (and many others) since 1999. And over 60 countries world-wide also permit the use of this safe deterrent for foodborne illness. According to Health Canada (their version of the FDA), irradiation is permitted only on potatoes, onions, wheat, flour, whole wheat flour, spices and dehydrated seasonings, and now on...