Benefits of Irradiation

The safety of irradiated foods has been extensively studied. Scientists have repeatedly concluded that the animal feeding studies have found no toxic effects from irradiated foods. Many national and international committees, organizations and regulatory agencies have reviewed the safety of irradiated foods. These include the World Health Organization (WHO), the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the Codex Alimentarius Commission, and the U.S. FDA. These organizations have all concluded that food irradiation is safe when Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) and Good Irradiation Practices are used.

Irradiation treatment results in modification of an extremely small amount of the chemical components in the food. Heat treatment, such as cooking, also causes chemical changes in the food. In fact, the chemical changes that occur in food by irradiation are several orders of magnitude less than heat treatment for a comparable effect. More than 40 years of research suggests that the chemical by-products of radiation are mostly the same as by-products of conventional cooking or other preservation methods. In general, the nutrient retention in irradiated foods is similar to the retention utilizing other food preservation techniques. Irradiation of food does not lead to nutrient losses to an extent that there is an adverse effect on the nutritional status of consuming these foods.

Excerpts from:
Kim M. Morehouse, Ph.D., Research Chemist
U.S. Food and Drug Administration
Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition
Office of Premarket Approval
{Published in Food Testing & Analysis, June/July 1998 edition (Vol. 4, No. 3, Pages 9, 32, 35)}

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