Irradiation Basics

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  • Irradiation rids foods of pests and bacteria by exposing the foods to gamma rays, electron beams, or X-rays. The energy from the rays damage microbes' DNA, causing them to die when they grow and try to duplicate themselves.
  • The technology was approved as a food-safety tool in the United States in 1985, when the federal Food and Drug Administration issued rules allowing the irradiation of pork. Its use is now permitted on a wide range of foods.
  • Irradiated products in grocery stores must feature a symbol called a radura and a statement that they have been irradiated.
  • The federal government, the World Health Organization, the American Medical Association, and the American Dietetic Association endorse food irradiation.The Consumer Federation of America, the Center for Food Safety, the Center for Science in the Public Interest, and the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine oppose irradiation for school lunches.

Vol. 22, Issue 40, Page 11

Published in Print: June 11, 2003, as Irradiation Basics
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