Tell the FDA: Irradiation is NOT Pasteurization!

  • by: Food & Water Watch
  • recipient: Dr. Andrew von Eschenbach, Commissioner, Food and Drug Administration
For years, the irradiation industry has had a problem convincing consumers to buy irradiated food. The industry's solution? Don't tell them it's irradiated.

Right now, food treated with ionizing radiation must be labeled as "Treated with irradiation" or "Treated by radiation." The irradiation industry wants to label these foods as "electronically pasteurized" or "cold pasteurized," which is misleading.

Studies have shown irradiation depletes the nutritional content of food and leaves behind chemical byproducts that can lead to promotion of cancer growth and genetic damage.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has just proposed a rule that would allow the use of the term "pasteurized" on some types of irradiated food and not require any labeling on others. We deserve to know whether or not our food has been irradiated.

Tell the FDA not to weaken the rules for labeling irradiated food!

Dear Commissioner von Eschenbach,

As someone who is concerned about the food I eat, I believe that I have a right to know if my food has been irradiated. But for years, the food irradiation industry has been trying to mislead consumers by co-opting the word "pasteurization" to describe their process.

Irradiation and pasteurization are separate and unique processes, and consumers deserve accurate labeling that allows them to distinguish between them.

Consumer data has repeatedly shown that consumers prefer the current labeling requirements for irradiated food. In 2001, your agency conducted focus groups of consumers on this issue. Participants unanimously rejected replacing the term irradiation with pasteurization and reacted with phrases such as, "sneaky," "deceptive," and "trying to fool us."

I strongly oppose the proposed rule to allow the use of the word "pasteurization" or other alternate terms on irradiated food and waive the labeling requirement for some types of irradiated food. The current rules for irradiation labeling should be preserved.

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