Public Citizen and the Center for Food Safety (CFS) have taken their jihad against food irradiation to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Complaining that the food irradiation industry routinely uses euphemisms like “electronic pasteurization” to describe an important weapon against food-borne illness, the two groups have long been opponents of the process in any form (they once opposed USDA approval of labels reading “irradiated for safety”). Public Citizen’s latest press release claims that this word substitution sets “a new standard for false advertising,” and a letter from the two Nanny groups to the FTC targets six different companies that have decided to rename their product rather than allow their opponents to use words like “irradiation” to scare people away.
But what’s so wrong about referring to food irradiation by the term “electronic pasteurization”? For the record, the entry for “pasteurization” at www.dictionary.com includes “The act or process of destroying most microorganisms in certain foods, such as fish or clam meat, by irradiating them with gamma rays or other radiation to prevent spoilage.” And regardless of what you call it, food irradiation (especially of fresh meat) remains a revolutionary tool in the fight against food-borne illnesses. The US Department of Agriculture, World Health Organization, and American Dietetic Association all think so, often calling food irradiation “a potential life-saver.”