News & tips on health, fitness and nutrition

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Irradiated meat - Safety concern

Safety concern: That exposing food to radiant energy to control spoilage and microorganisms might causes a loss of vitamins and have unknown long-term health effects.

When: In 1997 the FDA approved the use of irradiation for red meat and meat products, while opponents said more studies needed to be done.

Consumers are justifiably wary of foods bombarded with nuclear waste or powerful x-rays or gamma rays--since irradiation destroys essential vitamins and nutrients, creates unique radiolytic chemical compounds never before consumed by humans, and generates carcinogenic byproducts such as formaldehyde and benzene.

Although irradiation, except for spices, is banned in much of the world, and prohibited globally in organic production, U.S. corporate agribusiness and the meat industry desperately want to be able to secretly "nuke" foods in order to reduce the deadly bacterial contamination that is now routine in industrial agriculture and meat production.

Why: The FDA and meat producers said irradiation would help reduce the bacteria that causes food poisoning, but opponents pointed to studies linking irradiated meat to elevated levels of cancer. The FDA requires that irradiated foods sold in stores be marked and carry the international symbol for irradiation. But some supermarkets, such as Whole Foods Markets, are reluctant to carry irradiated meat and other irradiated products.

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