Organic Consumers Association

Tell the FDA: Don't Irradiate My Veggies!

Radura crossed out
The FDA has proposed a
new rule under the 2010 Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), one aimed at preventing foodborne illnesses. One of the ways for producers of fruits and vegetables to avoid having to comply with the new rule would be to irradiate their products.

Sign the letter below to tell the FDA: Don’t irradiate my veggies!

In the new rule
, one of two proposed under the misguided FSMA, the FDA says it wants to require makers of food to be sold in the U.S. to develop a “formal plan” for preventing their products from causing foodborne illness. Producers of processed foods and raw meat are exempted from the rule, but purveyors of raw fruits and vegetables will be required to comply – unless they irradiate their products.

Given the choice between irradiation and dealing with burdensome FDA paperwork, it’s safe to assume that many food producers will choose the easier route: irradiation.

Irradiation: What is it, and what does it do to food?

Food irradiation uses high-energy Gamma rays, electron beams, or X-rays - all of which are millions of times more powerful than standard medical X-rays - to break apart the bacteria and insects that can hide in meat, grains, and other foods. Radiation can do strange things to food, by creating substances called “unique radiolytic products.” These irradiation by-products include a variety of mutagens, which are substances that can cause gene mutations; polyploidy, an abnormal condition in which cells contain more than two sets of chromosomes; chromosome aberrations, often associated with cancerous cells; and dominant lethal mutations, a change in a cell that prevents it from reproducing. To make matters worse, many mutagens are also carcinogens.

According to the US Government Accounting Office’s Department of the Army’s Food Irradiation Program, irradiation damages food by breaking up molecules and creating free radicals. The free radicals kill some bacteria, but they also bounce around in the food, damage vitamins and enzymes, and combine with chemicals already in the food, such as pesticides, to form new chemicals, called unique radiolytic products (URPs).

Some of these URPs, including benzene, formaldehyde and lipid peroxides, are unique to irradiated foods. Scientists haven’t studied the long-term effect of these new chemicals in our diet, so how can we – or the FDA – assume they are safe?

The FDA would have us believe that irradiation is perfectly safe. Yet research has revealed a
wide range of problems
in animals that ate irradiated food, including premature death, a rare form of cancer, reproductive dysfunction, chromosomal abnormalities, liver damage, low weight gain and vitamin deficiencies.

Take action today! Please sign the letter below to tell the FDA: Don’t irradiate my veggies!

What’s Wrong with Food Irradiation, Organic Consumers Association:
Top 10 Reasons for Opposing Food Radiation,
Food Safety Fact Sheet, Center for Food Safety:
FDA press release on new rules

13537 total signers.