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Food irradiation increase. (News: dispatches from around the world about healthy, sustainable living).

An updated version of the Farm Bill, passed with little publicity in mid 2002, gave the American food industry the green light to avoid using the word "irradiation" on labels for food that has been treated with electrons or gamma rays to destroy bacteria. Instead, the Food and Drug Administration says words such as "cold pasteurization" may be used.

Environmental and consumer groups are against the irradiation process, no matter how it's labeled. Studies suggest the process may deplete vitamins, A, E and K and can deposit carcinogens in their place.

In addition to Canada and the United States, more than 40 countries, including France, Israel and Russia, have given approval for over 60 food products to be irradiated.

In Canada, products must carry the words "treated by irradiation" and government officials claim there is no move underway to change the labeling guidelines.

However, Health Canada is planning to expand the list of irradiated foods allowed to be sold. Currently wheat, flour, whole wheat flour, potatoes, onions, whole and ground spices and dehydrated seasoning preparations are the only foods permitted to be irradiated and sold in Canada. The new additions are fresh and frozen ground beef, fresh and frozen poultry, prepackaged fresh, frozen, prepared and dried shrimp and prawns and mangoes.

The government says that its review of industry submissions has concluded that there is no health risk to eating irradiated foods, that there is no loss of nutrients ("where that food is a significant source of those nutrients in the diet") and that the use of irradiation could help control E-coli and salmonella, reduce insect infestation and extend shelf life.

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Publication:Natural Life
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:Jan 1, 2003
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