Issue Date: April 9, 2007
Less stringent rules for irradiated food labels
FDA has proposed less stringent rules for labeling irradiated foods. Currently, all such foods must display the radura symbol and include the term "irradiated" on the label. FDA has proposed that "irradiated" and the radura logo be on the label only if irradiation causes a material change to the food, meaning a change in taste, texture, smell, or shelf life. Also under the proposal, a firm can petition the agency to use the term "pasteurized" in place of irradiated. With conventional pasteurization, products are heated to kill bacteria and then cooled rapidly, but with food irradiation, germs are killed with ionizing radiation. At this time, spices, eggs, fruits, ground beef, and poultry are the only foods that are irradiated, and except for spices, the practice is not widespread. The consumer group Food & Water Watch opposes the labeling changes, claiming that irradiation destroys vitamins, proteins, and other essential nutrients and should not be used. The agency will accept comments on the proposal for 90 days.
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