NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Irradiation: From The Mails To Foods

December 26, 2001

Following the recent deaths of four persons due to anthrax exposure from letters, postal official launched an effort to start irradiating the mails so as to kill anthrax spores.

Irradiation could prevent literally thousands of American deaths and millions of non-fatal infections that attack Americans each year through the food supply. But plans to do just that have been put on hold due to protests by anti-technology activists -- even while other countries have been safely irradiating their foods for decades.

  • The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that food microbes cause more than 75 million illnesses, kill 5,200 Americans every year and hospitalize more than 300,000.
  • Yet the Food and Drug Administration didn't approve irradiation of red meat and pork to prevent E. coli and Salmonella until 1997.
  • The American Medical Association, the American Dietetic Association, the World Health Organization and dozens of respected health and medical organizations around the world endorse irradiation.
  • In fact, food irradiation is now approved in more than 40 countries.

Groups such as the Center for Food Safety and Public Citizen continue to derail proposals to extend irradiation to foods not currently on the government's approved list. They claim that further FDA approvals "would amount to a serious potentially scandalous error in judgment."

But experts warn such scare tactics triumph over reason.

Source: Alex Avery (Hudson Institute's Center for Global Food Issues), "The Irradiation Solution," Washington Times, December 26, 2001.


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