Activists have re-ignited debate over the World Health Organization-endorsed practice of irradiating food, a common practice used to kill dangerous pathogens like salmonella and E.coli bacteria. The process has long been approved in the U.S. for use on raw chicken and beef, spices, and dried seasonings.
In recent months, more and more retailers and meat companies have been offering irradiated meat to customers: from Florida to Iowa, and even in hyper-sensitive New York City, consumers are learning that irradiated meat is likely to be safer to eat. And last month the nation’s largest ground beef producer announced plans for a line of irradiated products, signaling that the potentially life-saving practice is in demand by average Americans.
None of this, of course, matters to activists at Public Citizen (Ralph Nader’s anti-consumer group). Following an announcement that the U.S. Department of Agriculture will soon begin allowing irradiation of fruits and vegetables as well, Public Citizen launched into a typical tirade-via-press-release.
The group’s complaints range from the unproven and unlikely assertion that irradiated veggies will be robbed of all their nutrients, to the anti-globalist view that applying irradiation technology to more foods will somehow create “more opportunities for multinational companies.” (Oh, the horror!)
Still, if you can’t find irradiated meat at your grocery store yet, it could be that the store manager has been getting pressure from the self-styled socialists at Food And Water, a Vermont-based lobbying “collective” claiming 125,000 members. Promising unrelenting protests at U.S. supermarkets, the group’s president recently told the Orlando Sentinel: “We’ll be in front of as many as we can.”
Thankfully, a few level-headed commentators have weighed in as well. In Florida’s Gainesville Times, one op-ed writer says that food irradiation represents “another layer” in our “current food safety protocols.” He also notes that “the [public] acceptance level of irradiated products seems to be increasing.”
In Salt Lake City, Scripps Howard’s Jay Ambrose told Sunday’s Deseret News that “fears about irradiation are silly and dangerous.” Ambrose also notes, correctly, that the process is endorsed by the USDA, the FDA, and the Centers for Disease Control.