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October 2008 Issue

The Pros and Cons of Irradiation as an Answer to Keeping Our Food Safe

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture have approved the use of irradiation for pork, poultry, red meat, eggs in the shell, sprouting seeds, and fruits and vegetables, including potatoes. As labeling laws currently stand, any irradiated food must be labeled with a statement such as "treated by irradiation" and must display the irradiation symbol, called a radura. The one exception is spices that are used as ingredients; they are exempt. (Packaged spices are not usually irradiated.)Some mail-order beef products, like Omaha Steaks, are irradiated and clearly say so on the package. Some ingredients in restaurants are irradiated, but restaurants do not have to disclose that fact. Should any of this be cause for concern?

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