]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]] FOOD IRRADIATION [[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[ (Slightly adapted from AIF INFO flyer, December 1986) (6/17/88) About 25 % of the world's harvested food is lost to spoilage, decay and insects every year, and food losses are ever higher in many developing countries, The need -- and quest -- to preserve food dates back centuries to the first harvest. Food irradiation, a technology that was pioneered in this country, can go a long way toward alleviat- ing some of the world's food problems. Food irradiation has been the subject of more research than any other food process in history. Safety aspects of food irradiation have been carefully studied and documented over the past 40 years, yet the public knows little, if anything, about the process. This fact sheet is designed to demystify the technology and to eliminate some of the confusion and misconceptions associated with it, * Food irradiation is not a new process; the bacteria-killing effects of x-rays were first observed in 1898, shortly after x-rays and radioactivity were discovered. However, it was not until the 1940s that the first scientific report on food irradiation was published. ` * Irradiating foods DOES NOT make them radioactive, just as x- raying teeth does not make THEM radioactive. * Evidence shows that irradiated food is safe to eat. This evi- dence includes the results of a study by the Joint Expert Committee on the Wholesomeness of Irradiated Food (sponsored by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization and the International Atomic Energy Agency). * Essentially, the nutritional value of foods is not altered any more than when preserved by other methods. * By destroying molds, fungi and other microorganisms, irradia- tion can preserve food longer, typically extending shelf life from several days to weeks or more. At the same time, the use of fumigants and chemicals, many of which leave cancer-causing residues, are elimi- nated. * Irradiation can kill worms, and insects in cereals, grains, nuts, flour and fresh fruit, and can kill parasites that cause trichi- nosis and other diseases in pork, chicken and other meats. (Surpris- ingly, the US currently has one of the highest rates of trichinosis in the world. Irradiation of pork was approved by the US FDA in 1987.) * Around the world, some 25 nations -- from Japan to the Nether- lands, from France to South Africa -- use radiation to process more than 40 different types of foods, including spices, fruits and vege- tables, grains, meats and seafood. * The main push for food irradiation has come from non-profit world peace organizations, such as the World Health Organization, which realize, after decades of expert study, that the process is safe, economical and could help feed the world. To these technical points made by the AIF flyer, add a powerful ideological one: Since irradiated food is clearly marked, nobody who has hesitations about eating it is forced to buy it. The movement to ban food irradiation is not only technically and medically fallacious, but above all COERCIVE: it is one more example of the totalitarian tendency invariably exhibited by the sham-environmentalists and the radical Left.
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