How do you feel about eating irradiated food? And how do you feel about the FDA regulation that allows sellers to start irradiating fresh iceberg lettuce and spinach, right away. According to the Associated Press report, the FDA has decided that small doses of radiation will not only kill E. coli, listeria and salmonella on these two greens, the radiation will also give them a longer shelf life. And… they insist that the nutrient value and texture will remain the same.
Even if these claims are true… and many experts dispute them… I personally am still completely opposed to irradiating any of our food products. And yes, I am also aware that the groups pushing to have our food supply irradiated insist that it is completely safe and that no trace of radiation remains on the food. I still don’t want the food my family eats to have been exposed to ANY radiation treatments, and I don’t care how small the dose is. Apparently I am not alone… according to recent surveys, almost two thirds of the people in this country are against food irradiation and say they will not knowingly eat any food that has been irradiated.
Yellow daylily (Hemerocallis lilioasphodelus)
Instead of setting up an expensive and controversial irradiation program, why doesn’t the FDA enforce stricter cleanliness standards for the growers and processors? Wouldn’t it make more sense to prevent the produce from being contaminated, instead of just accepting the contamination and trying to kill it with radiation?
Supposedly the only irradiated food sold in U.S. supermarkets right now is ground beef (sold only in a few states), and the label has to clearly say that it has been irradiated. I was surprised to read that poultry, pork, beef, shellfish, eggs, juice, and spices can also legally be irradiated and sold in this country, but public resistance has prevented them from being sold so far. The guidelines say that if irradiated lettuce and spinach are sold by themselves, they will have to be labeled as irradiated. Does that mean that a bagged salad mix containing irradiated lettuce or spinach will not have to be labeled?
This situation reminds me of the bovine growth hormone that is given to milk-producing cows. Many people choose not to consume milk containing the growth hormone, but they continue to eat cheese, butter, yogurt, and other dairy products. Unless the manufacturer clearly states (as an advertising plus) that these products are made with milk that does not contain the bovine growth hormone, it is virtually impossible to know if a product does or does not contain the growth hormone. Will it soon be that way with irradiation and our produce too?
I wonder why this new regulation has not had a bigger place in the news. I wouldn’t have known about it at all except for a very brief mention on the radio news headlines last night. I had to do an Internet search to find more details. It’s difficult to escape the feeling that we’ll all wake up one day and find that all the produce is being irradiated and there is nothing we can do about it. Until then, I have another reason to keep reading labels carefully… and maybe it’s a good time to think about some winter hydroponic lettuce growing.