From Public Citizen a national U.S. non-profit public interest organization devoted to "protecting health, safety and democracy". www.citizen.org
Food Irradiation Q&A’s
Question: Is irradiated food
safe to eat?
· Irradiated food has caused a myriad of serious health problems
in laboratory animals that ate irradiated foods, including premature
death, fatal internal bleeding, a rare form of cancer, stillbirths and
other reproductive problems, mutations and other genetic damage, organ
malfunctions, stunted growth and vitamin deficiencies.
· Irradiation can lead to the formation of Unique Radiolytic
Products (URPs), mysterious chemical compounds that have not been
adequately identified or studied for their potential harm to humans.
One such type of chemical, called cyclobutanones, was recently found to
promote the cancer-development process in rats, cause genetic damage in
rats, and cause genetic and cellular damage in human and rat cells.
This chemical is a radiation byproduct of palmitic acid, a type of fat
that occurs in virtually every food.
· The World Health Organization did not follow its own
recommendation to study the toxicity of URPs before proposing in Nov.
2000 that the international irradiation dose limit _ equal to 330
million chest x-rays _ be removed.
· Irradiation leads to the formation of free radicals, which can
set off chain reactions in the body that destroy antioxidants, tear
apart cell membranes, and make the body more susceptible to cancer,
diabetes, heart disease, liver damage, muscular breakdown and other
· Irradiation does nothing to remove the feces, urine, pus,
vomit and tumors often left on beef, chicken, and lamb after processing
in filthy and inhumane slaughterhouses. These conditions have worsened
because government has allowed companies to increase the number of
carcasses processed each hour by increasing conveyer belt speeds (more
than 300 cows per hour and 100 chickens per minute). Public oversight
of slaughterhouses has also been reduced.
· Irradiation can spawn mutant forms of E. coli, Salmonella and
other harmful bacteria, making them more difficult to kill.
· Irradiation destroys vitamins, nutrients and essential fatty
acids, including up to 80 percent of vitamin A in eggs and half of the
beta carotene in orange juice. In some foods, irradiation can intensify
the vitamin and nutrient loss caused by cooking, leading to “empty
· Irradiation can lead to the formation of chemical known and
suspected to cause carcer and birth defects, including benzene, toluene
and methyl ethyl ketone.
· Irradiation can corrupt the flavor, texture and other physical
properties of some foods, leading to meat that smells like a wet dog,
onions that turn brown, and eggs that are runny.
· Irradiation kills beneficial microorganisms, such as the
yeasts and molds that can help keep botulism at bay, as well as the
microorganisms that create the aromas that tell us when food has gone
Question: Can the research into
food irradiation be trusted?
Answer: Not all of it.
· Research conducted at public universities is increasingly
industry-funded. A prominent Iowa State University professor who’s been
researching food irradiation for many years was just hired by Titan
Corporation, a leading irradiation company (and erstwhile defense
contractor). And, Titan recently entered a research contract with Texas
· Much of the early research into food irradiation, done during
the 1960s and 1970s, was conducted by an Army-hired firm that was
eventually convicted of fraud for fabricating the results of its work
on other research projects.
· Very little toxicological testing has been done on irradiated
food during the past 20 years. New, updated tests should be performed
with the benefit of improved scientific methods.
Question: Are consumers
receiving credible information about
· Food irradiation companies have been increasingly
in persuading the media to compare irradiation to
“pasteurization,” which is an entirely different process by which
microorganisms are killed by quickly heating and cooling food. Public
Citizen has filed false advertising complaints with the U.S. Federal
Trade Commission against two meat companies—Omaha Steaks and Huisken
Meats—that have either used the phrase “electronically pasteurized” or
outright failed to mention in their advertising material that their
products have been irradiated.
· Companies that irradiate with “e-beam” technology such as the
Titan Corporation are seeking to distinguish themselves from companies
that irradiate with gamma rays from radioactive sources. This is highly
misleading, as both e-beam (electrons fired from a linear accelerator
at nearly the speed of light) and gamma rays (high-frequency
electromagnetic waves) are forms of ionizing radiation—meaning that
they obliterate the bonds that hold atoms and molecules together, form
new chemical compounds and destroy nutrients.
· Furthermore, Titan and other irradiation companies are
comparing irradiating food with cooking food in a microwave oven. This
comparison is bogus. The radiation used to irradiate food is ionizing,
meaning that it drastically changes the chemical composition of food.
Microwave radiation is non-ionizing, meaning that the chemical
structure of food is largely left intact.
· Many “unbiased” supporters of food irradiation in reality work
on behalf of the food industry. The corporate-funded American Council
on Science and Health, for instance, is chaired by A. Alan Moghissi,
whose anti-environment and anti-consumer positions include opposing the
removal of asbestos from schools and proclaiming that higher levels of
carbon dioxide in the atmosphere would be a good thing for the
affidavit of University of Texas toxicologist William Au
concerns about the risks posed by chemicals formed in
In the Matter of Food Irradiation Petitions
Pending before the United States
Food and Drug Administration
October 28, 2001
Expert Affidavit on Safety of Irradiated Food
By William W. Au, Ph.D.
William Au, being duly sworn, hereby deposes and says:
Dated this 10th day of October, 2001, at Houston, Texas.
- My address is: Division of Environmental Toxicology,
Preventive Medicine and Community Health, Ewing Hall, 700 Harborside
Drive, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, Texas 77555-1110,
where I have been employed as a Professor since 1991. My Curriculum
Vitae is attached hereto indicating my professional qualifications as a
toxicologist. My primary research interest is in conducting molecular
and cellular studies to elucidate toxicological mechanisms for the
induction of human disease. Since obtaining my Ph.D. from the
University of Cincinnati, I have more than 20 years of experience
teaching, conducting and publishing peer-reviewed research, consulting
and speaking internationally, editing professional publications, and
serving on numerous expert committees. I am a member of the major
scientific societies related to toxicology and have received
approximately one dozen awards recognizing my professional
contributions. I have delivered more than 35 invited lectures
internationally and published or co-published more than 100 articles in
the toxicology field.
- I submit this Affidavit on the food irradiation petitions
before the United States Food and Drug Administration, most
specifically FAP 9M4697 (Docket No. 99F-5522), addressing "ready-to-eat
foods," however, the conclusions herein also apply generally to other
past and pending irradiation petitions.
- I submit this Affidavit on behalf of two Washington, DC,
groups, the Center for Food Safety and Public Citizen, who have
retained me as a consulting expert. Prior to this consultation I had no
prior involvement with those or any other non-profit groups involved in
food irradiation issues.
- In formulating my opinion, I have reviewed relevant documents
studies that were provided by my clients and conducted independent
research including several publications that I have selected from the
- My opinion, based on a reasonable degree of scientific
- Ionizing radiation is a well-documented teratogen, mutagen
carcinogen whereas some other procedures for food
decontamination/sterilization such as heat and steam are not. Ionizing
radiation interacts with cellular macromolecules that are also present
in food products to generate toxic products. Therefore, the use of
radiation to decontaminate/sterilize foods that are destined for human
consumption should be evaluated for health concerns very carefully.
Whenever other processing methods or combination of methods that are
equally effective in reducing the risk of food borne disease are
available, the use of the radiation procedure should be avoided.
Therefore, it is surprising to learn from the Food and Agriculture
Organization/International Atomic Energy Agency/World Health
Organization report (1999) that those agencies gave a blanket statement
of approval in the conclusion section "the study group concluded that
no upper dose limit need be imposed." (p. 161). This decision can lead
to misuse of the procedure in processing food for human consumption.
- Some reports in the peer-reviewed literature on mutagenic
of irradiated foods were not considered in the 1999 FAO/IAEA/WHO report
(Bhaskaram and Sadasivan, 1975; Vijayalaxmi, 1975, 1976, 1978;
Vijayalaxmi and Sadasivan, 1975; Vijayalaxmi and Rao, 1976). Although
the observations from these studies are not confirmed by some
publications in the literature, the positive findings have support from
other publications (Bugyaki et al, 1968; Moutschen-Dahmen, et al.,
1970; Anderson et al., 1980; Maier et al., 1993). Furthermore, repeated
observations of activities that have significant public health
implications such as polyploidy in somatic cells, genetic alterations
in germ cells and reproductive toxicity should not be ignored, but
should be considered seriously and explicitly by FDA with respect to
the pending food irradiation petitions.
- Radiolytic products are formed during the irradiation of
(Schubert, 1969). Their potential health hazards have not been
adequately evaluated. An emphasis should be placed on the products that
are unique to the irradiation process and that are potentially
mutagenic, e.g. 2-dodecylcyclobutanone (Delincee and Pool-Zobel, 1998;
Delincee et al., 1998). The quality and quantity of these radiolytic
products may be different from one food type to another. Without
conclusive evidence regarding the safety of these products, the safety
of irradiated food cannot be assured. Conclusive evidence of safety of
these products can be derived from in vivo studies published in
- The formation of hazardous free radicals in irradiated food
cause DNA damage is of serious concern. For food with high water
content, the free radicals are rapidly degraded after irradiation.
Therefore, human exposure to the free radicals through the food chain
is minimal. For food with low water content, the Food and Drug
Administration stated that "irradiated dry spices and seasonings are
examples of foods in which free radicals are known to persist for long
periods of time." (FDA, 1986, p. 13379). However, the FDA concluded
that this should not be of concern based on the manner in which these
foods are used. On the other hand, the concerns for other dry foods
that are consumed without further cooking and that are consumed in
large quantities, such as dried fruits and nuts, are not considered.
This possibility should be evaluated to determine the potential for
exposing consumers to free radicals. This concern should be included in
the FDA s analysis of the "ready-to-eat food" irradiation petition, FAP
State of Texas
County of Harris
Subscribed and sworn to before me this 10th day of October, 2001.
State of Texas
Anderson, D., Clapp, M.J.L., Hodge, M.C.E., Weight, T.M. Irradiated
laboratory animal diets dominant lethal studies in the mouse. Mutat.
Res. 80, 333-345, 1981.
Bhaskaram, C., Sadasivan, G. Effects of feeding irradiated wheat to
malnourished children. Am. J. Clin. Nutri. 28:130-135,1975.
Bugyaki, L., Deschreider, A.R., Moutschen, J., Moutschen-Dahmen, M.,
Thijs, A., Lafontaine, A. Do irradiated foodstuffs have a radiomimetic
effect? II. Trials with mice fed wheat meal irradiated at 5 Mrad.
Atompraxis 14:112-118, 1968.
Delincee, H., Pool-Zobel, B.L. Genotoxic properties of
2-dodecylcyclobutanone, a compound formed on irradiation of food
containing fat. Radiat. Phy. Chem. 52:39-42,1998.
Delincee, H., Pool-Zobel, B.L., Rechkemmer, G. Genotoxicity of
2-dodecylcyclobutanone. Food Irradiation: Fifth German Conference,
Report EFE-R-99-01, Federal Nutrition Research Institute, Karlsruhe,
FAO/IAEA/WHO report. High dose irradiation: wholesomeness of food
irradiated with doses above 10 kGy. World Health Organization, Geneva,
Food and Drug Administration. Final Rule, Irradiation in the
Production, Processing, and Handling of Food, 51 Fed. Reg. 13376, Fri.
Apr. 18, 1986.
Maier, P., Wenk-Siefer, I., Schawalder, H.P., Zehnder, H., Schlatters,
J. Cell-cycle and ploidy analysis in bone marrow and liver cells of
rats after long-term consumption of irradiated wheat. Fd. Chem. Toxic.
Moutschen-Dahmen, M., Moutschen, J., Ehrenberg, L. Pre-implantation
death of mouse eggs caused by irradiated food. Internat. J. Rad. Biol.
18: 201-216, 1970.
Schubert, J. Mutagenicity and cytotoxicity of irradiated foods and food
components. Bull. Wld. Hlth. Org. 41:873-904,1969.
Vijayalaxmi. Cytogenetic studies in rats fed irradiated wheat. Int. J.
Radiat. Biol. 7:283-285,1975.
Vijayalaxmi. Genetic effects of feeding irradiated wheat to mice.
Canad. J. Genet. Cyto. 18:231-238,1976.
Vijayalaxmi. Cytogenetic studies in monkeys fed irradiated wheat.
Vijayalaxmi and Sadasivan, G. Chromosome aberrations in rats fed
irradiated wheat. Int. J. Radiat. Biol. 27:135-142,1975.
Vijayalaxmi and Rao, K.V. Dominant lethal mutations in rats fed on
irradiated wheat. Int. J. Radiat. Biol. 29:93-98,1976.
The Cancer Prevention Coalition and
Illinois Food Safety Coalition
a Public Information Campaign to Warn of the Serious
of Food Irradiation
January 17, 2002
The irradiation industry, with Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
approval, claims that irradiating meat and other food is essential to
preventing E.coli O157 and other serious bacterial food poisoning. In
fact, this could readily be prevented by basic sanitary practices in
feedlots and meat packing plants which the powerful meat and
irradiation industries are unwilling to do. Furthermore, industry and
the FDA claim that irradiated food is safe.
However, these claims are false. "There is well-documented scientific
evidence on the cancer and other risks of irradiated food," emphasizes
Dr. Samuel Epstein, Chairman of the Cancer Prevention Coalition (CPC).
Furthermore, Paul Fehribach, Director of the Illinois Food Safety
Coalition (IFSC) states: "The posters will warn of the risks to
Schaumburg and Glendale Heights communities where irradiation plants
have been recently constructed."
In order to inform unsuspecting consumers, the CPC and IFSC are
displaying 46" x 30" posters (see attached), at two platforms in each
of the four major Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) stations--the
Washington and Jackson Red Lines, and the Washington and Jackson Blue
Lines--for up to five weeks from today. Additionally, mini-versions of
the posters will be distributed at locations including select CTA
stations outside downtown.
These warnings are endorsed by 20 statewide citizen and consumer groups
including: Alden Ponds Foundation, Chicago Diner, EarthSave, Families
Against Rural Messes (F.A.R.M.), Food Animal Concerns Trust (F.A.C.T.),
Global Resource Action Center for the Environment (GRACE), Illinois
Greens, Illinois Peace Action, Illinois Stewardship Alliance, Lake
Michigan Interleague Group of the League of Women Voters (LMILG),
Living Upstream, Media Watch, Natural Needs, Nuclear Energy Information
Service (NEIS), Nukewatch, Nutrition for Optimal Health Association
(NOHA), Organic Consumers Association, and Organic Food Network.
Samuel S. Epstein, M.D., Chairman, Cancer Prevention Coalition,
Paul Fehribach, Director, Illinois Food Safety Coalition, 773-294-4551
Why is the FDA Ignoring Toxic
Chemicals in Irradiated Food?
Since their work began in 1998, government researchers in Germany have
made some alarming discoveries about unique chemicals formed in food
when it is “treated” with radiation.
Cyclobutanones – which do not occur
naturally in any food – were shown
to promote cancer development and cause genetic damage in rats. The
chemicals have also been shown to cause genetic and cellular damage to
human and rat cells.
Under the Microscope
Research into the potential toxicity of cyclobutanones came to light in
1998. Henry Delincée of Germany’s Federal Research Center for
Nutrition found that a specific cyclobutanone called 2-DCB caused
genetic and cellular damage to human and rat colon cells. 
In three subsequent experiments, Delincée and his
colleagues found that 2-DCB caused genetic damage in rats 
related chemicals called 2-TCB and 2-TDCB caused genetic and cellular
damage in human cell cultures 
; and –
most disturbing of all – that
cyclobutanones promoted cancer development in rats. 
Europe Takes It Seriously
Meanwhile, the FDA’s counterparts in Europe are treating the matter far
In spring 2002, the 15-member European Union succeeded in delaying an
international proposal by the Codex Alimentarius Commission (which sets
food safety standards for more than 160 nations) to allow any food to
be irradiated at any dose – no matter how high.
And, the EU has delayed its own proposal to allow irradiation for
shrimp, frog legs, cereal grains, egg whites and other foods. until
ongoing experiments into the toxicity of cyclobutanones are completed.
This approach to policy-making, known as the precautionary principle,
is more prevalent in Europe than in the U.S., where government
officials are much more inclined make political decisions before all
the facts are in.
Righting the Wrongs
In the interest of protecting the public health, we have called on the
_ Analyze the cyclobutanone levels of all foods that the FDA has
legalized or has under consideration for irradiation;
_ Refrain from legalizing irradiation for any additional foods until
comprehensive, published, peer-reviewed research is conducted into the
potential health hazards of cyclobutanones; and
_ Convene public hearings to thoroughly explore and educate consumers
about the potential health hazards of cyclobutanones.
- Stevenson, M.H. “Identification of irradiated foods.” Food
Tech, 48:141-144, 1994.
- LeTellier, P.R. and Nawar, W.W. “2-alkylcyclobutanones
radiolysis of triglycerides.” Lipids, 7: 75-76, 1972.
- FDA Food Additive Petition 9M4697, Docket No. 99F-5522.
- Personal communication with Laura Tarantino, Deputy
FDA Office of Premarket Approval, June 27, 2001.
- Delincée, H. and Pool-Zobel, B. “Genotoxic
2-dodecylcyclobutanone, a compound formed on irradiation of food
containing fat.” Rad Phys and Chem, 52:39-42, 1998.
- Delincée, H. et al. “Genotoxicity of
2-dodecylcyclobutanone.” Food Irradiation: 5th German Conference,
Karlsruhe, Nov. 1998.
- Delincée, H. et al. “Genotoxicity of
2-alkylcyclobutanones.” (Abstract) 12th International Meeting on
Radiation Processing, March 25-30, 2001, Avignon, France.
- Marchioni, Eric et al. “Information about the potential
toxicity of 2-alkylcyclobutanones.” International Consulative Group on
Food Irradiation, Dec. 2001.
- Annual Report on Activities: 17th Meeting of the
Consultative Group on Food Irradiation. Geneva, Nov. 2000.
- 65 Federal Register 45280, July 21, 2000.
- Crone, A.V.J. et al. “Synthesis, characterization and use
2-tetradecylcyclobutanone together with other cyclobutanones as markers
for irradiated liquid whole egg.” Jour Sci Food Agric, 62:361-367, 1993.
Nuclear lunch: The dangers and
unknowns of food irradiation
On December 12, the US Food and Drug
Administration (FDA) approved the use of food-irradiation for beef.
Irradiation has been available for years for poultry, pork, spices and
vegetables in several other countries. The food industry claims it is
absolutely safe and a good way to kill harmful bacteria. But consumer
organizations protest food-irradiation as unsafe.
(486.4825) Food & Water
Beginning in 1986, the FDA has given the green light to expose nearly
the entire US food supply to nuclear irradiation. Since then, staunch
citizens' opposition has kept the technology out of use. Its use in the
beef industry would open the door to food irradiation as the "solution"
to contamination crises in all food groups, from poultry to fruits and
With beef irradiation approved, citizens' opposition, not government
regulation, remains the critical component in keeping irradiated food
off US store shelves. And from the hazards inherent in the technology
to the FDA's own admission that the safety studies are flawed, the
risks involved with food irradiation still far outweigh the presumed
Food is irradiated using radioactive gamma sources, usually cobalt 60
or cesium 137, or high-energy electron beams. The gamma rays break up the molecular
structure of the food, forming positively- and negatively-charged
particles called free radicals. The free radicals react with the food
to create new chemical substances called "radiolytic products". Those
unique to the irradiation process are known as "unique radiolytic
Some radiolytic products, such as
formaldehyde, benzene, formic acid and quinones are harmful to human
health. Benzene, for example, is a known carcinogen. In one experiment,
seven times more benzene was found in cooked, irradiated beef than in
cooked, non- irradiated beef. Some URPs are completely new chemicals
that have not even been identified, let alone tested for toxicity.
In addition, irradiation destroys essential vitamins and minerals,
including vitamin A, thiamine, B2, B3, B6, B12, folic acid, C, E, and
K; animo acid and essential polyunsaturated fatty acid content may also
be affected. A 20-to-80 percent loss of any of these is not uncommon.
Safety studies flawed
The FDA reviewed 441 toxicity studies to determine the safety of
irradiated foods. Dr. Marcia van Gemert, the team leader in charge of
new food additives at the FDA and the chairperson of the committee in
charge of investigating the studies, testified that all 441 studies
were flawed. The government considers irradiation a food additive in
testing food additives for toxicity, laboratory animals are fed high
levels (in comparison to a human diet) of potential toxins. The results
must then be applied to humans with theoretical models. It is
questionable whether the studies the FDA used to approve food
irradiation followed this process. In fact, the FDA claimed only five
of the 441 were "properly conducted, fully adequate by 1980
toxicological standards, and able to stand alone in support of safety".
With the shaky assurance of just five studies, the FDA approved
irradiation for the public food supply.
To make matters worse, the Department of Preventive Medicine and
Community Health of the New Jersey Medical School found that two of the
(five) studies were methodologically flawed. In a third study, animals eating a diet of
irradiated food experienced weight loss and miscarriage, almost
certainly due to irradiation-induced vitamin E dietary deficiency.
The remaining two studies investigated the effects of diets of food
irradiated at doses below the FDA-approved general level of 100,000
rads. Thus, they cannot be used to justify food irradiation at the
levels approved by the FDA.
Other studies indicate serious health problems associated with eating
irradiated food. A compilation of 12
studies carried out by Raltech Scientific Services, Inc. under contract
with the US government examined the effect of feeding irradiated
chicken to several animal species. The studies indicated the
possibility of chromosome damage, immunotoxicity, greater incidence of
kidney disease, cardiac thrombus, and fibroplasia.
Raltech's findings in 1984, USDA (Department f Agricultur) researcher
Donald Thayer asserted: "A collective
assessment of study results argues against a definitive conclusion that
the gamma-irradiated test material was free of toxic properties
Studies of rats fed irradiated food
also indicate possible kidney and testicular damage and a statistically
significant increase in testicular tumors. One landmark study in India
found four out of five children fed irradiated wheat developing
polyploidy, a chromosomal abnormality that is a good indication of
future cancer development.
Not a Silver Bullet
Irradiation poses serious risks, and it still does not ensure safe
meat. Although it kills most bacteria,
it does not destroy the toxins created in the early stages of
. And it also kills beneficial bacteria which
produce odors, indicating spoilage and naturally control the growth of
Irradiation also stimulates aflatoxin
production. Aflatoxin occurs
naturally in humid areas and tropical countries in fungus spores and on
grains and vegetables. The World Health Organization (WHO) considers
aflatoxin to be a significant public health risk and a major
contributor to liver cancer in the US South.
In addition, irradiation will likely
have a mutagenic effect on bacteria and viruses that survive exposure.
Mutated survivors could be resistant to antibiotics and could evolve
into more virulent strains. Mutated bacteria could also become
radiation-resistant, rendering the radiation process ineffective for
food exposed to radiation-resistant strains.
Radiation-resistant strains of
salmonella have already been developed under laboratory conditions
and scientists at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge have found
that one bacteria occurring in spoiled meat and animal feces can
survive a radiation dose five times what the FDA will eventually
approve for beef. Scientists exposed the bacteria, called
D.radiodurans, to between 10 and 15 kilograys (kGy) of radiation for
several hours--enough radiation to kill a person several thousand times
over. The bacteria, which scientists speculate evolved to survive
extreme conditions of dehydration, survived the radiation exposure.
Excepted from the Food & Water report Meat Monopolies: Dirty Meat
and the False Promises of Irradiation by Susan Meeker- Lowry and
Jennifer Ferrara, published in Food & Water Journal, Fall/Winter
1997-1998. For a copy of the complete report contact Food & Water
Inc. at: R.R.1, Box 680, Walden, Vermont 05873. Tel: +1-802-563-3300;
the FDA is Ignoring the Potential Dangers of
Mark Worth and Peter Jenkins / Public
Citizen and The Center for Food Safety
Unique Chemicals in Irradiated Food
In 1971, two University of Massachusetts food researchers
discovered that when certain fats commonly found in food are
irradiated, the resulting byproducts include a class of chemicals that
had never before been found in food. These chemicals _ called
cyclobutanones _ are not just unique to food, they have never been
found to naturally occur in any other substance.
Thirty years later, the discovery of these chemicals lies at the center
of an international debate that could have profound implications for
the future of irradiated food. In recent experiments conducted by
German government scientists, one of these chemicals,
2-dodecylcyclobutanone _ or 2-DCB _ was shown to cause genetic damage
when given to rats, and genetic and cellular damage to human and rat
cells. Two other chemicals in the cyclobutanone family _ 2-TCB and
2-TDCB _ were also shown to cause genetic and cellular damage to human
In the interest of protecting the health of Americans, and in order for
the agency to fulfill its federal mandate to protect Americans from
dangerous food additives, Public Citizen and the Center for Food Safety
are calling on the FDA to:
- Conduct a comprehensive analysis of the fat levels of all
foods that the FDA has legalized or has under consideration for
irradiation, and the cyclobutanone levels of these foods after they are
- Refrain from legalizing the irradiation of any additional
foods until comprehensive, published, peer-reviewed research is
conducted into the likelihood that cyclobutanones could cause health
- Convene public hearings to thoroughly explore the potential
health effects of cyclobutanones
‘Since we would like to know whether, in the case of cyclobutanones,
DNA [damage] has any significance, ...the results urge caution, and
should provide impetus for further studies.’ – Henry Delincée,
Federal Research Center for Nutrition Karlsruhe, Germany
To see the complete study, please go to: http://www.mindfully.org/Food/Irradiation-FDA-IgnoringDec01.htm
Why Oppose Food
Irradiation is not necessary to prevent food borne illness and
irradiation merely masks filthy conditions in slaughterhouses which
cause meat to be contaminated with bacteria that cause illness.
Irradiation forms new chemicals in food that are known or
suspected to cause cancer and birth defects; destroys vitamins and
other essential nutrients; and corrupts the flavor, odor and texture of
food. A wide range of health problems have been observed in
animals fed irradiated foods, including premature death, stillbirths,
mutations, fatal internal bleeding, organ damage, immune system
dysfunction, stunted growth and nutritional deficiencies.
Irradiated food does not have to be labeled when served in
schools, restaurants, hospitals, or nursing homes. Parents would
not know if their children are eating irradiated meat as part of the
National School Lunch Program (a change the USDA has recently
Irradiation exacerbates the problems faced by family farms
because it opens the floodgates to imported food.
Irradiation contributes to the consolidation of the food
industry because it extends shelf life allowing agribusiness to move
their operations outside the U.S., where costs are cheaper, but labor
and environmental standards are weaker.
The European Parliament has refused to expand the use of
irradiation for additional types of food (currently restricted to
spices, dried herbs, and seasonings) due to lingering health and safety
Irradiation facilities can create air pollution and other
environmental and worker safety threats.
In legalizing and endorsing food irradiation, the U.S. Food and
Drug Administration and the World Health Organization, respectively,
ignored a vast amount of research suggesting that irradiated foods are
not safe for human consumption.
The Food Commission - UK
Friday 25th October 2002
Scientists in row over safety of irradiated
Scientists investigating the toxicity of chemicals in irradiated food
have challenged Europe's most prestigious advisory committee - the
Scientific Committee on Food (SCF) - after the committee decided to
ignore the researchers' latest findings, the Food Magazine revealed
The EU-funded research team's original study contained important new
evidence of the genotoxicity and cytotoxicity of cyclobutanones, found
exclusively in irradiated fat-containing food. The researchers' report
summary said: 'The experiments demonstrate that pure compounds, known
to be exclusively formed upon irradiation of fat-containing food,
exhibit some toxic effects including promotion of colon carcinogenesis
in rats… Whether these findings are relevant to the human exposure
situation needs to be analysed. In our opinion further investigations,
including confirmation of our results by other laboratories, will help
to elucidate a possible risk associated with the consumption of
irradiated fat-containing foods.' 1
However, the SCF concluded on 3 July 2002 that the research was not
adequate to make statements about the real risk to human health, and
that they would base their recommendations on a 15-year old review
which failed to find evidence of toxicity.2
important because the discussion of irradiation at the international
food standards-setting body Codex was delayed in March pending the
opinion of the SCF on the results of the new research. If the SCF gives
2-ACBs the all-clear then Codex will probably follow suit.
In a remarkable open letter distributed in response to the SCF
decision, the research scientists repeated their main concerns and
emphasised that the chemicals in irradiated food '…present cytotoxic
and genotoxic effects in cultured human cells, promote colon
carcinogenesis in rats and accumulate in adipose tissues of rats fed
with these compounds.'
In a veiled hint against the SCF's dismissalof their work, the
researchers emphasise that their 'new data, which will be published in
peer-reviewed journals, raise some doubts or at least suggest that
caution should be exercised before any risk to consumers by exposure to
these compounds is denied'.
Merav Shub, UK Food Irradiation Campaign leader, said 'Consumers are
very concerned that the precautionary principle is being abandoned by
the SCF. The committee must re-think its position.'
Details from Merav Shub tel: 020 7837 9229.
report SCF/CS/NF/IRR/26 ADD 3 Final, 3 July 2002
US food irradiation expert Wenonah Hauter states "irradiation significantly alters the composition of food. The negative health effects that irradiated foods have had on lab animals are well documented, including premature deaths, mutations, foetal death, reproductive problems, immune system disorders, fatal internal bleeding, organ damage, stunted growth and nutritional deficiencies".