Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Irradiated Spinach ... And Lettuce, Tomatoes, Asparagus ...

I knew it would come to this. From The Des Moines Register:

Irradiated Spinach Passes A Taste Test

Two weeks ago the House of Representatives held a meeting on food safety. Iowa State University professor Dennis Olson attended. He brought with him a cooler. Inside the cooler were samples of irradiated, and non-irradiated, spinach, lettuce, tomatoes, and asparagus. He laid the products on a table in front of the committee members. They sampled the spinach.
"No difference," said Bart Stupak, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee's oversight subcommittee.

"No difference," agreed Rep. John Shimkus, R-Ill. "I think Popeye would approve."
Irradiation kills E. coli, salmonella, and other microorganisms - good and bad.
"When we have widespread use of irradiation of our food supply, it will also be listed as a pillar of public health," said Olson, an expert on irradiation. He compared the technology to pasteurizing milk with heat.
The FDA approved irradiation of meat and poultry in 1999. According to its website, it also allows its use in a few other foods, including fresh fruits, vegetables, and spices. It's now considering whether to approve its wider use in produce. The FDA's director of food additive safety released a statement on March 12th saying the produce irradiation issue was a "high priority."

Irradiated foods are required to be labeled with either the statement "treated with radiation" or "treated by irradiation" and the international symbol for irradiation, the radura (shown above).1

This isn't the direction I want to see food safety take. But with the ever increasing amount of food being grown and distributed in this country, to feed the ever increasing number of mouths, I see irradiated produce on the horizon - especially when you consider:
"Soil and water testing has shown Salinas Valley is teeming with E. coli."
- Dr. Kevin Reilly, California Department of Health, Should We Irradiate Fruits And Vegetables?
1 FDA - Food Irradiation, A Safe Measure
Idea for post: Barry Estabrook's Politics of the Plate. Great photo of a blue tomato there.

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