Originally published September 4 2008
Hold the Spinach, Hold the Lettuce - the FDA Wants to Nuke Our Veggies
by Joanne Waldron
(NaturalNews) The FDA has just announced that food producers may now start zapping lettuce and spinach with just enough ionizing radiation to kill E. coli. The muckety-mucks at the FDA have decided, in their infinite wisdom, to use the American public as guinea pigs in an ongoing human experiment to find out the long-term effects of the consumption of irradiated food. In spite of the FDA's insistence that eating food treated with just a wee bit of ionizing radiation is safe, Public Citizen (a consumer watchdog group founded by Ralph Nader in 1971 for the purpose of protecting health, safety, and democracy) believes otherwise (understatement) and is trying to get the word out to consumers about the lies that are being told to the trusting American public.
While many people may not be aware of it, the irradiation of food has been going on in the United States for a long time. Rather than using something like a skull and crossbones, food that has been irradiated is supposed to be marked with the radura symbol, which looks like a happy, little green flower. It's not surprising that many people wouldn't even notice this, and those that do might make the mistake of thinking the product is healthy.
Of course, makers of frozen foods like pizza and lasagna and such that use irradiated spices aren't even required to mention this on the box at all. (What's a little bit of ionizing radiation amongst friends?) Moreover, consumers of irradiated food served in restaurants, hospitals, schools, and nursing homes are not given any sort of warning whatsoever.
Much of What is Irradiated Isn't Labeled
Food isn't the only thing being irradiated. According to Food Technology Service Inc., (FTSI), items that are commonly sterilized with gamma radiation include pharmaceuticals (another reason to get off those meds), medical devices, medical disposable products, saline, cosmetics and toiletries, packaging, laboratory equipment, herbs and spices, produce, meat and poultry, animal feed, and documents. According to an article at PharmTech.com, drug makers have used gamma radiation to sterilize pharmaceuticals for more than forty years.
Irradiated Food Unsafe to Eat
Public Citizen maintains that irradiated food is not safe to eat. According to their Q & A's on irradiated foods, "Irradiated food has caused a myriad of serious health problems in laboratory animals that ate irradiated foods, including premature death, fatal internal bleeding, a rare form of cancer, stillbirths and other reproductive problems, mutations and other genetic damage, organ malfunctions, stunted growth and vitamin deficiencies." A review of the studies demonstrates that this is absolutely correct. TrueHealth.org has compiled a list of some interesting studies for those who wish to confirm this information. FoodIrradiationInfo.org also has quite a bit of information on the studies that have been conducted in this area. How an organization like the FDA which is supposed to be looking out for public health can ignore all of these studies is just beyond belief.
Public Citizen also reports that the studies show that irradiation can cause the formation of Unique Radiolytic Products (URPs), including cyclo-butanones, which were found to promote cancer and genetic damage in rats. Cyclo-butanones were also found to cause genetic and cellular damage in both human and rat cells. Since cyclo-butanones are a radiation byproduct of palmitic acid, a type of fat that is found in most all foods, there is definitely cause for concern.
Additionally, irradiation is responsible for the formation of free radicals, which most people know is not a good thing. That's not all. Public Citizen reports that irradiation can also form chemicals linked to cancer and birth defects such as benzene, toluene, and methyl ethyl ketone. Sounds yummy -- not!
Irradiation Doesn't Solve Sanitation Issues
With apologies to those with weak stomachs, Public Citizen also reports that irradiation does not "remove the feces, urine, pus, vomit and tumors often left on beef, chicken, and lamb after processing in filthy and inhumane slaughterhouses." Since the government allows companies to use conveyor belt speeds that allow the processing of carcasses at the speed of 300 per hour for cows and 100 per minute for chickens (check out TheMeatrix.com), things are getting worse and worse. Cheeseburger, anyone?
Irradiation Destroys More Than Just the Nasty Stuff
In addition to creating all of the nasty stuff, irradiation destroys things like the vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids. In fact, "up to 80 percent of vitamin A in eggs and half of the beta carotene in orange juice" is destroyed, according to Public Citizen. Cooking the food only serves to amplify the nutrient loss, in many cases. Of course, the irradiation can also destroy the beneficial microorganisms that help to prevent botulism and the ones that create odors which signal that a food has gone bad.
Irradiated Food Tastes, Smells and Looks Terrible
Food that has been irradiated doesn't taste as good as fresh food, either. Consumer Reports notes that cooked irradiated meats (beef, chicken) taste and smell like singed hair. Public Citizen equates the smell of irradiated beef to that of a wet dog and notes that it makes onions turn brown and eggs turn runny. Yuck. Who would want to eat food that smells, tastes and looks terrible with all sorts of health risks?
Follow The Money Trail
The answer, of course, is that nobody should want to eat this kind of food. There's usually an answer to be found if one follows the money trail. So, who stands to profit by the irradiation of foods and vegetables, other than the people who get paid to irradiate it?
According to an article at FoodIrradiationInfo.org, the nuclear establishment wants to be able to use nuclear waste for food irradiators. This would allow them to spread the nuclear waste widely, rather than having to worry about the cost and problems of disposing of it all in one place. Their idea is to use leftover radioactive cesium for food irradiation; however, since this stuff is water soluble, it could be a real disaster in any community where a spill occurs. Therefore, in addition to all of the ill health effects caused by eating irradiated food, there are other kinds of health dangers to consider, as well.
Better, Safer, Cheaper Solutions
Of course, the FDA wants everyone to believe that there is no other way to protect the poor, helpless people with weak immune systems from getting sick except to irradiate lettuce and spinach. This is just complete and utter nonsense. It is ridiculous to endanger the health of an entire nation to serve the needs of just a few people. One obvious solution is for people with compromised immune systems to simply cook their food.
Tersano Lotus Sanitizing System
However, there is something called the Tersano Lotus Sanitizing System, currently available at Amazon.com, which uses ordinary tap water to sanitize food in just a few seconds for a fraction of a penny. The FDA and USDA know about this machine, because they have approved it for food sanitation. It kills 99.9 percent of: E. coli, salmonella, staphylococcus aureus (Listeria), and K. Pneumonia.
According to Amazon.com, here's how it works: "The lotus patented Oxyshield technology infuses cold tap water with an extra oxygen atom, creating a natural sanitizer. By passing air through 4,500 volts of electricity, the lotus system splits oxygen molecules into atoms and forces this extra atom to combine and form super-oxygen, or ozone. The third oxygen atom becomes the sanitizing agent, a natural oxidant -- which kills bacteria and viruses, and neutralizes pesticides." Hmm... sure sounds a little safer than irradiation, not to mention cheaper and much more practical. Oh, but wait -- then the nuclear industry wouldn't be able to use peoples' dinner plates to dispose of their radioactive materials.
So, what can consumers do about this food irradiation problem? Well, the best solution is, of course, to grow as many vegetables at home as possible. If that's not possible, buy vegetables directly at local farmers' markets. Even though food that has been irradiated is supposed to be labeled if it is bought as a separate item, don't count on it. Trust no one. Be very suspicious of imported fruits and vegetables. Naturally, don't purchase any foods that contain the radura symbol.
Beware of Pasteurized Food
Also, be very suspicious of any food that is "pasteurized." There is a big difference between food being irradiated and food being pasteurized, but some groups are pushing to be able to label irradiated food as pasteurized, according to a government document. In fact, Public Citizen reports that they have "filed false advertising complaints with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission against two meat companies -- Omaha Steaks and Huisken Meats -- that have either used the phrase 'electronically pasteurized' or outright failed to mention in their advertising material that their products have been irradiated."
Consumers should also tell their local school boards that they don't want their children being served irradiated food, and provide information about how easy it is for companies to sneak things like irradiated spices into food service products. Consumers should also tell their local grocers that irradiated products are unacceptable and prepare fact sheets about irradiation to distribute at grocery stores and PTA meetings. Flyers can be placed on peoples' cars parked in shopping center parking lots. Consumers should certainly call the FDA and complain (1-888-INFO-FDA) constantly. Don't forget to call and write to let lawmakers know about this, too.
Bad Science at the FDA
The bottom line is that the FDA used only 7 studies to make their determination that irradiated food is "safe" to eat, according to Public Citizen. This is a complete joke (only it's not too funny), given that there have been over 400 studies. Of the 7 studies they used, only three were published in peer-reviewed journals. In two of the studies, the doses of radiation used were far below what is currently allowed by the FDA. (Better science than this can be seen in middle school science fair projects.) Moreover, three of the studies used were written in French, and the FDA has no translations.
The time to act is now. Let the FDA know that there are much better ways to ensure the safety of the food supply other than irradiation. Allowing farmers to use human sewage for irrigation probably doesn't help matters much, either. It is common for the government to come up with solutions that try to solve an immediate problem (i.e. people getting sick from unsanitary food) without looking at the bigger picture which, in this case, is peoples' long-term health. The intelligentsia of society needs to stand up and make their voices heard, because the great minds of our time clearly aren't working at the FDA.
About the authorJoanne Waldron is a computer scientist with a passion for writing and sharing health-related news and information with others. She hosts the Naked Wellness: The Gentle Health Revolution forum, which is devoted to achieving radiant health, well-being, and longevity.
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