U.S. Approves Irradiation
to Guard Meat Safety
By Julie Vorman
Note: The darkside of food irradiation is well known to consumer advocates and health professionals. Below is the mainstream media's story about it's long-feared approval. The irradiation process uses deadly nuclear waste which will be trucked on U.S. roadways to various locations arond the country and then placed directly into the hands of corporate America...the private sector. The irradiation process is so deadly a human would perish in 10-12 seconds if exposed to it. The products being irradiated would be exposed for 30-40 minutes on average. Among othere things, this exposure has been demonstrated to create dozens of new, unknown molecular compounds in the food. Some of these compounds have been identified as carcinogens but most don't even have names yet. More to come...
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. regulators Tuesday approved the use of irradiation to kill food-borne bacteria in beef, lamb and pork amid worries by consumer groups that the procedure may be oversold as a solution to growing outbreaks of food contamination.
After a record U.S. recall of 25 million pounds of tainted hamburger in August, the meat and food industries lobbied hard for Food and Drug Administration approval of tiny doses of gamma rays or X-rays to kill bacteria and parasites in beef.
Irradiation, first used by NASA to sterilize food for astronauts, is widely used to control insects and disease in fruits, vegetables, grains and spices. The FDA approved its use with poultry several years ago, but it is rarely used.
"Irradiation of meat could prove to be another important tool to protect consumers from food-borne disease," said Michael Friedman, deputy FDA commissioner. "The process has been shown to be safe and to significantly reduce bacterial contamination."
After three years of study, the FDA concluded that irradiation does not make meat radioactive, nor does it noticeably change taste, texture or appearance.
Consumers are not likely to find packages of irradiated meat at their grocery stores any time soon.
The U.S. Agriculture Department, which has authority over meat inspections, must first modify its regulations over the next few months to include irradiation. The agency hopes to complete that process by mid-1998, a USDA spokeswoman said.
Consumer groups contend that scientists need to find better ways to treat food safety problems on the farm.
"Irradiation is definitely being oversold as a solution to food safety problems by the food industry," said Caroline Smith DeWaal of the Center for Science in the Public Interest.
"It isn't the right approach to take a filthy product and irradiate it to make it sterile. We need to make sure that the filth is removed earlier in the process," DeWaal said.
Although the FDA review did not include costs of the technology, experts have estimated irradiation could cost consumers about five cents per pound. That would add about $2 per person to annual grocery bills based on average consumption of about 33 pounds of hamburger.
IBP Inc, the nation's largest beef processor, plans to test irradiation's effect on the color and flavor of beef.
"It will ultimately be up to the consumer to determine if this is an acceptable process," an IBP spokesman said.
Food industry groups welcomed the FDA action. "In order to maintain the safest food supply in the world, the beef industry needs the flexibility to use new technologies as they become available," said Van Amundson of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association.
Even with irradiation, consumers must cook meat thoroughly and use safe food-handling procedures, the USDA said.
Steam pasteurization of beef, pulsed light beamed onto meat and a sterilizing rinse for poultry are other procedures that have been approved by regulators, but all kill only bacteria and germs on the surface of the animal. Irradiation penetrates the meat to kill internal parasites, and can be used after meat is packaged for shipment to grocery stores.
Some scientists are also investigating potential inoculations of farm animals that could prevent them from carrying E. coli that occurs normally in the intestinal tract.
The public's growing nervousness about outbreaks of E. coli, salmonella, cyclospora and other food-borne diseases prompted the Clinton administration to launch a food safety initiative that includes legislation to give USDA more authority over meat recalls, adding inspectors to check domestic and imported produce and rolling out mandatory safety programs at meat, poultry and seafood processing plants.
More than 35 countries use irradiation, which was approved earlier this year by the World Health Organization.
The agency action came after Isomedix Inc, a New Jersey maker of medical equipment, petitioned the agency in 1994 to approve irradiation of red meat. The company was acquired by Steris Corp for $142 million in September.

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