FDA Permits Much
Less Prominent Food
Irradiation Labels
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. government, in a step welcomed by food makers, adopted a new rule Monday that allows less prominent wording on packages for food that was irradiated. The disclosure now can be in the same, usually small, typeface devoted to listing ingredients in the food. The new Food and Drug Administration rule reflected a change first made by a 1997 law. Before then, the wording had to be prominent. ``Obviously, we're gratified. ... It's our hope now they will go further and look at what labeling is most informative,'' said Timothy Willard of the National Food Processors Association.
Irradiation uses tiny doses of gamma rays or X-rays to kill bacteria. The FDA has ruled it does not make foods radioactive nor does it change their taste, texture or appearance. However, the food industry has been slow to adopt the technology, partly due to limited consumer acceptance. Willard said the disclosure -- ``treated with radiation'' or ''treated by ionizing radiation'' -- and the accompanying ''radura'' logo often were mistaken by consumers as a warning rather than a description of a safe processing method. The FDA has approved irradiation for spices, fruits, vegetables, pork, poultry and red meat. The Agriculture Department, which oversees meat safety, was studying potential regulations allowing use of irradiation on red meat as well as how to label the product.
In recent months, concern about food safety has brought attention to irradiation as a way to kill parasites. The Center for Science in the Public Interest has argued irradiation was being oversold as a solution.