by Brandon Turbeville
Demonstrating the lack of concern held by regulatory agencies for public safety or public opinion as well as the increasing attempts to become compliant with Codex Alimentarius regulations, the FDA has recently expanded the amount of ionized radiation that can be used to treat unrefrigerated raw meat.
As reported by Food Safety News, the two new policies decided upon by the FDA were issued in response to two petitions filed in 1999 by the Food Safety and Inspection Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
While the previous policy was that only refrigerated or frozen meats could be irradiated, the new rule allows for the irradiation of unrefrigerated raw meat. The second rule change allows for increasing the dose of ionizing radiation in poultry from 3.0 kGY to 4.5 kGy.
Although a period for public comment is always set aside for regulatory agency decisions regarding potential changes to policy, the FDA promptly ignored the many comments it received from individuals all over the country as well as consumer advocacy groups which requested the denial of the two FSIS petitions.
The response from the FDA was that all of these comments, made by individuals and by groups such as Public Citizen and the Center for Food Safety, “were of a general nature” and “did not contain any substantive information that could be used in a safety evaluation of irradiated poultry.” This statement was made regarding both the poultry irradiation rule and the passage of a new meat temperature rule.
Predictably, the FDA has defended its decision by circular logic that flies in the face of science and common sense. The agency is claiming that “irradiating unrefrigerated meat was not found to increase meat’s toxicity, change the food’s nutritional properties or increase the likelihood of certain bacteria thriving on meat; therefore FDA has determined that this is a safe application for the process.”
Of course, while the FDA claims that irradiation is not found to increase toxicity or change nutritional properties, the very reason that the FDA has jurisdiction over food irradiation to begin with is because the process of irradiation can do just these very things. Even the FDA admits that, because irradiation “can affect the characteristics of the food,” it is considered a “food additive.” Thus, because food additives fall under the purview of the FDA, irradiation is regulated (or not) by the agency.
By allowing for higher doses of irradiation in food, the FDA is knowingly complicit in covering up unsanitary food production practices by major corporations as well as accepting the inclusion of clearly harmful material (i.e. radiation) into the food supply. Keep in mind, irradiation is mostly used by corporations in order to cover up deplorable manufacturing conditions and dangerous food contamination.
However, much like the FDA’s position on genetically modified food, even the concept of consumer choice is nothing more than a smokescreen.
For instance, while the FDA states that all irradiated foods entering the supply chain must be accompanied by a radura symbol indicating the irradiation process, the fact is that this symbol is only required to be presented to the “first consumer,” not the average person actually buying and eating the food. More often than not, the “first consumer” is actually the high-level distributor of the food. Needless to say, the radura symbol is removed in short order before the goods are shipped to the market and long before they reach the people who purchase them directly.
Indeed, the FDA has made moves to derail consumer knowledge even further with relatively recent attempts to re-label irradiated food as “pasteurized” so as to obscure the real nature of the “treatment” process. In fact, the proposal even states that an “alternate term to ‘irradiation’” may be considered for use with no further suggestion as to what this term may be.
Therefore, one legitimately wonders whether or not, if the proposal should go through, the selected terminology will be even more obfuscating than that of “pasteurization.”
Lastly, it is important to note that the FDA has been making clear strides toward harmonization with Codex Alimentarius guidelines for at least the last ten years. As I discuss in my book Codex Alimentarius – The End of Health Freedom, Codex Alimentarius itself has set the acceptable limit of food irradiation at 10 kGy with loopholes that actually allow for unlimited levels of irradiation.
Indeed, the FDA has also pushed for Codex harmonization with vitamin and mineral supplements, as well as genetically modified foods.
With this in mind, it would be well within reason to expect to see the acceptable levels of food irradiation raised even higher in the very near future.