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Scientific Panel Applauds New USDA Rules for Meat Irradiation, Scoffs at Fear Mongers


New York, NY, February 12, 1999ČThe American Council on Science and Health (ACSH) today applauded the promulgation by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) of rules concerning the irradiation of beef, calling it a move that will make our country's already safe food supply even safer.

Irradiation of red meat was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) late in 1997, but beef producers could not begin using the process until the USDA established regulations to govern it.

Opponents of irradiation have tried repeatedly to arouse public fears, both of the process itself and of irradiation facilities; but the claims being made by the irradiation opponents are, quite simply, not true. Irradiation does not significantly affect either the taste or the nutritional value of the foods treated, and irradiation has been approved for various applications by 40 countries worldwide.

Additionally, more than 40 irradiation facilities currently operate safely in towns and cities across the United States. In these plants radiation is used to sterilize products ranging from baby-bottle nipples and cream containers to scalpels and surgical gloves. The facilities use the same technology that would be applied to foods, and the safety record of the industry is excellent.

According to ACSH Director of Nutrition Dr. Ruth Kava, "One unique benefit of irradiation is that it is done at the end of processing, making it less likely that beef will become contaminated at the plant and be shipped out in that condition."

Irradiation has been approved by both the World Health Organization and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. In the United States the American Medical Association, the American Dietetic Association, and the Institute of Food Technologists have all joined ACSH in endorsing the use of irradiation to supplement the other methods currently used to safeguard our food supply.

The American Council on Science and Health is a consortium of more than 250 physicians and scientists.

For more science-based information on food irradiation, visit ACSH's website at www.acsh.org/publications/booklets/irradiated.html.

For more information contact:
The American Council on Science and Health
1995 Broadway, 2nd Floor
New York, NY 10023-5860


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