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Spinach and Iceberg Lettuce Will be Treated with Radiation

Recent approval by the government (FDA) will allow food producers/processors to use radiation for the first time to kill bacteria in spinach and iceberg lettuce.  The radiation process will zap the lettuce to kill off E. coli, salmonella, and other harmful germs to help decrease or eliminate the likelihood of ingesting potentially, life-threatening contaminated food.spinach

Meats, particularly ground beef, have been treated with radiation for years, but food companies and consumers are somewhat weary of how this will affect the quality of the lettuce.  Some feel the texture will be limp and not as crisp, while others think it could zap out its beneficial nutrients.  The government stays firm and believes the quality of the lettuce will not be compromised and all the vitamins and minerals will stay intact.  The FDA’s decision statement agreed stating that “irradiation will not have an adverse effect” on the nutritional makeup of lettuce.

Some consumers are skeptical about using radiation to control outbreaks and feel that something should be done locally, at the farming level, rather than at the processing step.  Some people feel as though there should be tighter regulations for the farmers to follow in order to eliminate contamination issues, stating that “irradiation is not a remedy for unsatisfactory production practices.”  Caroline Smith DeWaal, food safety director for the Center for Science in the Public Interest, expressed that there isn’t much concern about the safety of irradiated foods,” but feels as though “there are simpler steps that can be taken.”  Another specialist was quoted saying “irradiation is a costly end-of-the-line technology, which should be accompanied by safer produce handling measures at the farm level.”

You be the judge, how do you feel about this?

August 27th, 2008