Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Is your food Irradiated? (Part 1)

Just when you think it is safe to take a steps Gamma Ray from the future and informs you that he has just treated the food you are about to eat. Cool, huh?

According to the CDC, three different types of irradiation technologies exist: gamma rays, electron beams and x-rays. Thank you, but NO THANK YOU! For the same reason that I do not use a microwave, I would prefer that my food has not been x-rayed, electron beamed, or shot with a gamma ray.

The CDC says irradiation of food is similar to pasteurization of milk; in other words, it kills everything in its path. The agency website states that "...studies show clearly..." that "...the nutritional value of the food is essentially unchanged...Irradiation is a safe and effective technology that can prevent many foodborne diseases." (I added emphasis to the word essentially there in that sentence because I want to know what that means. It either IS or IS NOT changed, but ESSENTIALLY unchanged means...what? Essentially, in this context, means BASICALLY, as far as I can tell. Why would there be a need to use that word to qualify "unchanged" if the thing is, in fact, unchanged? Answer: there would be no need. Therefore, I can only conclude that the CDC is, IN ESSENCE, admitting that there is some degree of change in food that has been irradiated.

The American Council of Science and Health says
"The safety of food irradiation has been studied more extensively than that of any other food preservation process. As is true of other food processes, irradiation can lead to chemical changes in food." They go on to state that those chemical changes are "not known to be toxic by any modern toxicological methods." Hmmm...well, at one point in our "modern" history, frontal lobotomies were deemed safe, and were routinely inflicted upon patients who ended up, essentially, mentally destroyed.

The Food Standards Agency in the UK says "...Irradiation can be used to kill bacteria that cause food poisoning, such as salmonella, campylobacter and E. coli. It can also delay fruit ripening and help stop vegetables, such as potatoes and onions, from sprouting." So, then, which is it? Is it for our "safety" or is it, perhaps, another issue of greed and prolonging shelf life?

One thing I find really scary about this is that the UK website also states that this process causes free radicals (intentionally), "...which kill micro-organisms and also interact with other food molecules. Free radicals are formed by almost all food processing techniques, including cooking, chopping and grinding. Radiation also kills bacteria directly by affecting their DNA." Great; so the radiation, DNA alteration, and infliction of free radicals into my food via an "absorbed dose" (measured in units of Gray) is totally safe, DONE SPECIFICALLY FOR MY SAFETY, and in no way, essentially, changes the food from its natural state?

Are they kidding? Are we really that stupid? Do they believe we are that stupid? (I think they do, in fact, believe just that.) Are we all completely asleep, or do we just not care? So, I do believe that I DON'T want any irradiated food.

Are you still with me?

Now, where does irradiated food turn up in our food supply, and how do I avoid such food? Here are at least some of the answers to that question, but they don't really clear it up for me (do you feel better yet?):

Approved uses of irradiation.

FoodApproved useDose
Spices and dryDecontaminates and controls30 kGy
vegetable seasoninginsects and microorganisms
Dry or dehydratedControls insects and10 kGy
enzyme preparationsmicroorganisms
All foodsControls insects1 kGy
Fresh foodsDelays maturation1 kGy
PoultryControls disease-causing microorganisms3 kGy
Red meat (such as beef, lamb and pork)Controls spoilage and disease-causing microorganisms4.5 kGy (fresh) 7 kGy (frozen)
KGy = kiloGray

SOURCE: Food and Drug Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The truth is that there is not a "consensus" according to the FDA about whether [safe] irradiation constitutes a "material fact" that would require disclosure to a consumer, so you may or may not be informed on a label that the food has been irradiated. ( If there is no label, like in the produce department or at a restaurant, you will certainly not get to know if your food has been irradiated. And even after all this killing of pathogens on my food to make it safe, how is it that there are still outbreaks of food-borne illness?

I'm pretty sure that treatment of my FOOD with GAMMA RAYS or other x-rays or ELECTRON BEAMS ought to be a "material fact." The very idea that the FDA thinks that it is not necessarily material (because it does not alter the appearance of the food!) illustrates just how deeply runs the idiocy of this agency. Am I wrong?

One sure way to know your food is not irradiated?
Visit the field. Watch them grow your food.
Ask them how they treat the food and
whether it is organically grown.
(certified organic
not necessary,
in my opinion)
Are you a Food Revolutionary?
Join me!
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Lori at Jarvis House said...

Scary! Now what do I eat? I have given up fish, all white things like sugar and flour, red meat, and goodies and baked things. I did lose weight, but Nuts, cheese, salads, and chicken are getting to me. I do not smoke or drink alcohol. Am I just boring, or healthy?

Thomas said...

Yet another recipe to try and produce as much of your own food as possible. Quite disturbing trend if you ask me.

Thank you for the pickling spice recipe! I really appreciate it!