My personal experience with food irradiation stunk! It was early 2005 when I opened a packaged pork loin I had purchased at the local grocery store, and gagged from the odour. It smelled unlike anything I had ever smelled before. Not necessarily rotten but definitely…unpleasantly off.
I returned the meat and got a refund. I didn’t know much about food irradiation at that time, but the idea that the two could be connected never crossed my mind.
While doing research for my web page on food irradiation I came across this page that talks about irradiated pork.
I can only conclude that the pork I returned had been irradiated. But there was nothing on the label to clue me in to that reality. Why not? Because irradiated foods only have to be labeled with wording and the Radura symbol to the first purchaser which is rarely the consumer.More details can be accessed on health food online.
There is no reliable way of knowing if non-organic food you are buying has been irradiated.
Not only are consumers not adequately notified by existing labeling requirements, but food industry groups have even been pressuring Congress to require the FDA to remove ALL irradiation labels.
What Is Food Irradiation Supposed to Accomplish?
It’s main use is to sanitize foods, so they won’t make people sick. The four bacteria associated with meat and poultry products that can cause food borne illness are:
- E. coli 0157:H7
These less-than-fab four are found in the manure and intestines of poultry, livestock and contaminated eggs. Irradiation means there is no need to improve sanitation in the concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) also known as farm factories, which could slow down production.
As it is, USDA meat inspectors have only seconds to view up to 160 carcasses per hour and now it will only get worse. Why? Because USDA inspectors are being replaced with the processing plant’s own workers whose loyalties lie with the company and their own livelihoods, not consumer safety.
So if it hasn’t already passed this rapid-fire “inspection”, meat is then irradiated so it will appear untainted, even while contaminated with feces or intestinal content. Yes, that means they are still on the meat. Oh goody, radiated crap!
What are the problems with food Irradiation?
The FDA calls the process using a “radiant energy source” but it is actually an “ionizing energy source” that not only breaks the bonds in the DNA of bacteria, pathogens and insects, but also in the foods themselves.
A quote from this website this website:
Dr. George Tritsch, a retired cancer researcher who spent a lifetime working at both the New York Department of Health and Roswell Park Memorial Institute, believes the greatest worry about irradiated beef has to do with carcinogens, like benzene and formaldehyde, which form in the meat during irradiation.
“When you hit proteins with irradiation you get formaldehyde, a known mutagen, and benzene,” Tritsch explains. “Benzene is bad business. The FDA did tests for acute toxicity–whether irradiated food would kill you fast–but the problem with mutagens is they could take 30, 40 years to do their damage.” Irradiation of beef could well lead to increases of lymphoma and possibly colon cancer, he adds.
Food irradiation reduces nutritional quality
Vitamins, especially antioxidants, are significantly reduced. The degree of loss depends on the food and how long it has been stored. Since some children tend to eat large quantities of the same foods day after day, not knowing if their favorites have been irradiated leave mothers in the dark as to the nutrients they are really receiving.
Digestive enzymes are very likely being damaged.
An important difference between raw and cooked foods is their enzyme content. If a food that is meant to be eaten raw has been irradiated you can’t rely on that food having the beneficial characteristics you expect from a raw food.
Irradiation can change the taste, texture, odor and appearance of food.
Some foods stand up to irradiation better than others. Fats in meats and other foods become rancid quickly because the free radicals created in the irradiation process oxidize the fats. This is what I belive happened to the pork loin I bought.
It is also possible to induce radioactivity into foods using the highest permitted dose for fruits and vegetables though it does diminish during storage.
Which Foods Are Approved for Irradiation?
- Meat purchased by the National School Lunch Program
- Herbal teas
- Wheat, wheat flour
- Fruits and vegetables
- Pork, Lamb, Poultry, Beef
- Eggs in the shell
- Seeds for sprouting (like alfalfa)
- Imported fruits and vegetables
The use of nuclear materials is inherently unsafe and as I wrote above, irradiated meat may still contain fecal matter and other contaminants. Actually irradiated meat is more likely to be contaminated, since the processors may assume they don’t need to be as careful with meats that will eventually be zapped anyway.
Unfortunately, irradiation is simply much easier than mindful processing and cleaning up the factory farms. It also makes it easier to pass-off old foods as fresh. No long-term testing has been done on the effects of food irradiation.
All of the nasties that irradiation kills can be taken care of by proper cleaning and cooking fresh food. If you choose to eat mass-produced ground beef, cook it well-done. Send your kids off to school with a lunch you prepared for them yourself.
Proper food handling practices, and buying from local farmers is the best way I know of to avoid food poisoning. You then know your food is as fresh as possible and you have the benefit of knowing your dollars are benefiting your own community.
Fortunately, we can avoid all of this unpleasantness because certified organic foods cannot be irradiated.