In an effort to extend shelf-life and combat food contamination, the majority of our foods undergo the controversial process of irradiation before reaching market. Foods that are radiated include but are not limited to meats, fruits, vegetables, spices and breads. While the radiation process helps kill off harmful bacteria, it also destroys much of the food's vitamins and beneficial phytonutrients. Purportedly, it also is capable of altering the genetics of the food.
Instead of addressing the cause of meat and poultry contamination, the FDA, upon petition by the USDA, has decided simply to increase the levels of allowable food radiation used. Specifically, 21 CFR Part 179 has been amended effective November 30, 2012, increasing acceptable radiation levels from 3.0 kilograys (kGy) to 4.5 kGy. In addition, currently there is no law or requirement in place to compel the proper labeling of irradiated foods.
While meat and poultry contamination is a growing and serious problem in our country, perhaps the best solution lies in addressing the cause rather than the symptom. Investigation into and remedy of the unsanitary factory and farming practices, while potentially more expensive and time consuming, may yield a more beneficial and healthful result. The FDA, by implementing the recent CFR amendment, does not appear to be wary of trading one problem for another.
The FDA maintains that the increase in radiation levels used on our food is perfectly safe. If you are among those who disagree and want to avoid consuming radiated foods, the best way to do so is to purchase foods that are organic or locally grown and sold at a farmer's market.
Long Island Lawyer
Paul A. Lauto, Esq.