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Irradiation Advances Food Safety

Over 50 years of scientific research have demonstrated the effectiveness of irradiation to minimize food borne illness and decrease waste. The term "irradiated" refers processes that treat foods with radiation. Irradiation does not make the food radioactive; in fact, it changes the nutrient content no more significantly than cooking or freezing. The food irradiation process involves exposing the food (packaged or in bulk) to a carefully controlled quantity of radiation energy for a specific time.

Foods ranging from fresh produce to prepared meals can be irradiated. Various types of food products are irradiated to destroy harmful bacteria, inhibit spoilage, or kill insects

Why irradiate foods?
Food-borne disease affects an estimated 76 million Americans every year and leads to nearly 325,000 hospitalizations. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimate that irradiating even half of all meat could prevent 900,000 cases of food poisoning.

Why support irradiated foods in schools?
With USDA approval, the National School Lunch Program now has irradiated beef on the menu. The US military, hospitals, and NASA also serve irradiated foods to troops, patients and astronauts.

Is pasteurized the same as irradiated?
The two processes are often compared because both demonstrate how technology has improved the quality and safety of our food. Irradiation promises to improve food safety in the 21st century to the degree that pasteurization and canning relegated fears of typhoid fever and botulism to the 19th century.

Where I can I find irradiated products?
Nearly two dozen supermarket chains provide irradiated meat for their customers in 30 states across the country. Two major restaurant chains offer irradiated meat products in 145 establishments.

Who supports or endorses food irradiation?

American Council on Science and Health
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
United States Department of Agriculture
American Medical Association
American Dietetic Association
American Council on Science and Health
Centers for Disease Control
Council for Agricultural Science and Technology
National Food Processors Association
United State's Department of Agriculture (USDA)
U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
World Health Organization
American Veterinarian Medical Associationn

Last updated July 9, 2012, 4:52pm CDT.

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