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Poultry irradiation gets FDA approval but packers seem 'chicken' to use it.

Poultry Irradiation Gets FDA Blessing, But Packers Seem `Chicken' to Use It

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved the process of poultry irradiation, but it has also called for mandatory and permanent labeling of all foods that are exposed to gamma rays, X-rays or electron bombardment to kill insects, molds or bacteria that can lead to spoilage or disease.

The upshot is that any concern marketing irradiated foods will have to clearly label such products as "treated by irradiation." What will this mean for the future of irradiation as a food preservation option in the USA?

"Well obviously this has very long term effects for the food industry or anyone who wants to bring irradiated food into the marketplace," said Richard S. Silverman, Esq., a partner with the Washington law firm of Hogan & Hogan. "The so-called `glow in the dark' foods are not ones that meet with great consumer promise."

The National Broiler Council, an organization made up of some 90% of the companies that raise and process chicken in the USA, apparently shares Silverman's opinion. William Roenigk, a council economist, noted that efforts to convince Americans that irradiated chicken is safe to eat "would be much too costly and time consuming because most people have made up their minds. They are not neutral about it."

He continued: "Most consumers are not willing to make the tradeoff and they are aware that proper cooking will kill the salmonella, and that seems to be a much better tradeoff than going to irradiation."

Nonetheless, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which sought FDA approval of poultry irradiation along with Radiation Technology Inc., a concern that irradiates food and medical supplies, insists that using nuclear power industry wastes such as Cobalt 60 or Cesium 137 to preserve foods is perfectly safe.

However, a hot debate ensues over the process among members of the scientific and medical communities. "With irradiation, you create new chemicals in the food, radiolytic products (chemicals that are potentially toxic or carcinogenic), and that is what should be tested," said Dr. David C. Dodson, assistant clinical professor of medicine, Boston University, contending that appropriate testing has not been done.
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Title Annotation:poultry manufacturers fear bad consumer reaction to irradiated products
Publication:Quick Frozen Foods International
Date:Jul 1, 1990
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