To the Editor,
Re: "Consumers Warm Up To Radiation"—NFM, January 2003
It is surprising that The Natural Foods Merchandiser would portray food irradiation in a positive light, asserting that consumers are warming to the technology. Your article failed to educate its readers on the potential dangers of irradiation.
Despite rave reviews from irradiation proponents, consumers are wary of this technology—and rightfully so. Irradiation disrupts the chemical composition of everything in its path, depleting vitamins and creating new chemicals in foods, some of which are known to promote cancer development. The Food and Drug Administration regulates irradiation as a food additive because new substances are created by the process.
The meat industry blames weak sales of irradiated food on federal rules that require it to be labeled and has spent years pressuring the government to allow the word pasteurization to be used instead. Consumers know that irradiation and pasteurization are distinctly different processes and have said resoundingly in recent market research by both the FDA and the U. S. Department of Agriculture that such a labeling change would be "sneaky" and "deceptive."
Eliminating bacteria must begin at the source—by slowing down the lines in meat plants, improving sanitation practices and strengthening the USDA's inspection system—so that contaminated meat cannot fall through the cracks and land on our dinner plates.
Director, Critical Mass Energy and Environment Program
Public Citizen, Washington, D.C.
Editor's note: The Natural Foods Merchandiser does not endorse irradiating food. The article appeared in the news section and reported the fact that irradiated foods are becoming widely accepted by mainstream consumers. The only way to guarantee that food hasn't been irradiated is to buy USDA certified organic.
Natural Foods Merchandiser volume XXIV/number 3/p. 32