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USDA approves imports of irradiated fruits and vegetables.

USDA said last week it would begin allowing imports of fruits and vegetables treated by irradiation, a technology used to kill bacteria and lengthen shelf life. Irradiation, which has been endorsed by the World Health Organization, exposes food to low doses of electrons or gamma rays to destroy deadly organisms such as E. coli O157:H7 and salmonella. It has been approved by U.S. regulators for use with raw chicken and beef as well as spices and dried seasonings.

Some green groups and environmentalists fear using high-energy radiation in food products could have harmful side effects for consumers.

With USDA's new rule, importers have one more alternative to protect produce from fruit flies and the mango seed weevil. Other choices include fumigation and cold treatment. "The irradiation alternative allows importers to sell riper, more valuable fruit, with less damage," the USDA said. Irradiation would most likely boost imports of exotic fruits and vegetables, such as papaya, that need to be treated for fruit flies, it added.

Anna Cherry, spokeswoman for USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, said the irradiation rule became effective October 23 when it was published in the Federal Register.
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Title Annotation:United States Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
Publication:Food & Drink Weekly
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Oct 28, 2002
Words:194
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