Irradiating food in the name of food safety is dangerous, according to a recent study published by the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW-M). The research revealed a link between irradiated food and severe neurological disorders such as paralysis, movement disabilities, vision problems, cognitive degeneration, intense pain, loss of feeling, and even death. Consumption of irradiated food by test subjects also caused the destruction of myelin, a mixture of proteins and phospholipids that form a protective sheath around nerve fibers in the central nervous system, including in the brain.
The serious implications associated with irradiating food are largely ignored by mainstream science, and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has suggested on numerous occasions that irradiating food is the answer to food safety problems. But is this accurate?
The scientists who conducted the UW-M study were quick to dismiss the idea that humans would be affected in the same way as the cats used in the study were, recklessly insisting that it is “extremely unlikely that [irradiated food] could become a human health problem.” But to suggest this is to completely ignore the facts about irradiating food.
According to the Organic Consumers Association (OCA), irradiation damages molecules and digestive enzymes in food and creates free radicals, leading to the destruction of as much as 80% of the vitamins present in the food. The radioactive particles can also combine with existing chemicals in food, including pesticide residue, and create new chemicals called unique radiolytic products (URPs), which include more well-known toxins such as benzene, formaldehyde, and lipid peroxides.
The safety of long-term ingestion of irradiated food by humans has also not been adequately determined. A 15-week trial on humans was the longest study ever conducted, and it failed to identify the ramifications of a life-long diet of varying frequencies of irradiated food.
In 1982, the FDA approved irradiation of poultry based on only five out of 441 animal-feeding studies that, according to Marcia van Gemert, Ph.D., the toxicologist who was chair of the FDA committee at the time, were inadequate by even 1982 standards. It was also revealed that the levels of radiation the food was subjected to in the studies was significantly lower than the ones the FDA ended up approving for use on human food.
Worse, approval of produce irradiation was determined based on a theoretical calculation of URP levels in one’s diet, assuming ingestion of a single 7.5 ounce serving of irradiated produce a day. Since a varied assortment of foods has been approved for irradiation, this quantity is inconsequential and irrelevant for any legitimate safety estimation. Legitimate studies on animals, however, have shown that irradiated food in reasonable quantities causes them to develop tumors, reproductive problems, and kidney damage.
The horrific truth hiding behind the push for increased food irradiation is the filthy conditions of the industrial food system. The industrial food lobby pushed for years to relax regulations on food cleanliness, encouraging the mistaken notion that irradiation would purify the filthy food prior to distribution. The sad reality is that not only does irradiation destroy the food and make it unfit for consumption, but it also fails to adequately sterilize the food and can actually increase the risk of malignant bacterial growth.
According to the FDA, the international symbol for irradiation, the radura, must be visible on packaging when the “entire product” has been irradiated. Additionally, any product with irradiated meat as an ingredient must indicate that it is irradiated, but does not have to show the radura. Restaurants are not required to indicate to customers that they are using irradiated food at all.
Money talks, and voting with one’s wallet is probably the best method by which to stem the tide of food irradiation. If the idea of irradiated food bothers you, be sure to tell grocers, restauranteurs, the FDA, and local newspaper and television stations that producing or distributing irradiated food is unsafe and unacceptable. Ask them to take a stand against irradiated food, refuse to purchase irradiated food yourself, and tell others about the dangers of irradiated food.
Food & Water Watch, a nonprofit advocate of healthy food and water, has an excellent website with helpful information about food irradiation.
To truly solve the problems of food safety, Big Industry and its promulgation of tainted, filthy food must be put to a stop. Ensuring that food is grown, produced, and processed in a clean environment from start to finish should be the primary goal, not the nuking of the entire food supply in order to sweep the root causes of food safety problems under the rug.
For more information:
Duncan ID, Brower A, Kondo Y, Curlee JF Jr, Schultz RD. Extensive remyelination of the CNS leads to functional recovery. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2009 Apr 2.