Meat irradiation is a method of killing off harmful bacteria, such as E.coli, salmonella, or listeria, by exposing the meat to a substantial but brief dose of gamma rays from electronic or radioactive sources. It has been called the most-studied food safety process in the modern world. Even the Pope supports irradiation as a way to provide perishable food to Third World countries. So why are activists from the Chicago suburb of Schaumburg up in arms about a local company’s plan to provide this service next year?

Food Cop Michael Jacobson (of the Center for Science in the Public Interest) has admitted that irradiation “could save hundreds – perhaps thousands – of lives.” Yet his group and Ralph Nader’s Public Citizen have taken positions against it. CSPI has since quietly reversed this decision. The definitive word on the subject comes from Dr. Allan Forbes, a past director of the FDA’s Office of Nutrition and Food Sciences: “Food irradiation is safe beyond the slightest question and could make food safer too. It’s a sad commentary, but it’s clear to me that these groups make their living by creating fear about issues like this.”