How safe is irradiated
By Andy Summa
U.S. regulators will now allow manufacturers to irradiate animal feed and pet treats, but some environmental groups worry the move could endanger animal health.
The irradiation process exposes food products to ionizing radiation, which causes chemical changes similar to conventional cooking. The process is intended to destroy harmful bacteria like salmonella, but could also expose animals to premature death, a rare form of cancer, reproductive dysfunction, liver damage and vitamin deficiencies, according to environmental group Critical Mass.
The Washington, D.C-based group claims irradiation destroys 80 percent of Vitamin A in eggs and 48 percent of beta carotene in orange juice.
“Irradiated meat is a very different product than natural meat,” said Dr. Samuel Epstein, chair of the Cancer Prevention Coalition. “In sharp contrast to FDA claims of safety, based on grossly inadequate testing and rebutted by its own expert committees, there is well-documented scientific evidence that eating irradiated meat poses grave risks of cancer and genetic damage. Furthermore, irradiated meat is highly susceptible to cross-contamination with food poisoning bacteria.”
The Food and Drug Administration said using irradiation will “not only increase the safety of the feed for the animals consuming it, but to the people who handle animal feed and feed ingredients.
“Irradiation is a useful tool for reducing disease risk,” the FDA said in a statement.
The FDA encourages pet owners to wash their hands thoroughly with soap and warm water after any contact with the pet treats, however.
Andy Summa is a freelancer writer in Sugar Land, TX.
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