Scientific Fact's Uphill Battle vs. Irradiation Misinformation

CHICAGO - Countering negative, misinformation campaigns with repetitive messages focusing on the positive is a favorable method to improve consumers' willingness to buy irradiated foods benefitting their health and safety, according to a series of studies described in this month's issue of Food Technology magazine, the flagship publication of the not-for-profit international scientific society Institute of Food Technologists.

The November article, "Influences on Purchase of Irradiated Foods," reveals that equal amounts of promotion and criticism of the irradiation of food result in unequal buying decisions by consumers.

It states,"when [consumers were] provided with both sets of information, the effect of negative information dominated that of the positive." It was determined that irradiation opponents' unsubstantiated claim of a link between irradiated food and increased cancer risk is the most damaging factor.

When consumers are presented an equal set of favorable and unfavorable messages, followed by truthful statements about irradiated foods, the article reveals more than 80-percent of consumers said they would purchase an irradiated food.

The truthful statements included: irradiated food could never become radioactive; no study has shown a connection between irradiated food and cancer or birth defects; radiolytic properties similar to those produced by irradiation are also produced when food is grilled or fried; vitamin losses are insignificant and lower than in other food processing procedures; and others.

"Pasteurization of milk and seat belts for automobiles were controversial for a time, but we know conclusively they both save lives," said IFT irradiation expert Christine Bruhn, whose studies are among the article's references, "The same will be true for irradiation."

"Those of us familiar with irradiation have an obligation to share the safety benefits of irradiated foods with the public."

Food Technology is published monthly by IFT, providing news and analysis of the development, use, quality, safety, and regulation of food sources, products, and processes. Monthly issues are accessible online at:


Founded in 1939, the Institute of Food Technologists is a not-for-profit scientific society with 27,000 members working in food science, technology and related professions in industry, academia and government. As the society for food science and technology, IFT brings sound science to the public discussion of food issues. For more on IFT, see

Contact: James N. Klapthor, Media Relations Manager
Phone: 312/782-8424 ext. 231
E-mail: [email protected]

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