Statement of Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter
The Food and Drug Administration announced today that it may allow irradiated food to be mislabeled with alternate terms such as pasteurized. This move by FDA would deny consumers clear information about whether they are buying food that has been exposed to high doses of ionizing radiation.
Consumers have been reluctant to buy irradiated food, and rightly so. Irradiation damages many foods and can ruin their flavor, odor, and texture. The process destroys vitamins, protein, essential fatty acids and other nutrients , up to 80 percent of vitamin A in eggs and half the beta carotene in orange juice, the FDA has noted.
The proposal is a clear gift to the irradiation industry, which has been struggling for years. The request to change labeling rules for irradiated food is not a new one. In 2002, the Farm Bill instructed the FDA to re-consider its labeling rules for irradiated food, which require irradiated food to bear the radura symbol and a disclosure statement (treated with irradiation or treated by irradiation.)
The public is no more enthusiastic about changing the label than about irradiated food itself. Thousands of Americans submitted comments in opposition to proposed changes irradiation labels in 1999 and 2002, and polls consistently demonstrate consumer support for accurate labeling with the word irradiation.
Consumers have a right to know if their food has been exposed to ionizing radiation. FDA should be implementing rules that guarantee that right, not allowing the meat and irradiation industries to mislead consumers into buying something they might otherwise avoid. We urge FDA to abandon this proposed rule change and will urge consumers to object to the agency‚ dangerous proposal.”