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Health Panel Supports Irradiation as Aid to Export of Hawaiian Fruit

New York, NY—June 19, 1998. The American Council on Science and Health (ACSH) today announced its support for the use of irradiation as a fruit–and–vegetable quarantine process and applauded the planned construction of an irradiation facility near Hilo on the Big Island of Hawaii.

“It is important for consumers to understand that food irradiation is a safe process,” said Dr. Ruth Kava, ACSH's director of nutrition. “Food irradiation does not make foods radioactive any more than a dental X ray makes teeth radioactive.”

Irradiation has been approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a means to preserve freshness and destroy illness–causing bacteria in a wide variety of foods. Since 1986 the FDA has allowed low–dose irradiation of a variety of fruits and vegetables to delay maturation and/or to treat insect infestation.

In the planned Hilo plant treatment of locally grown produce with low–dose irradiation would kill or render sterile insects and other parasites and their eggs. The Hawaiian fruits and vegetables so treated would then be eligible either for immediate local consumption or for export without any further treatment. Local growers thus would enjoy a greatly expanded market for their products.

Extremist organizations have tried repeatedly to inflame public fears, both of irradiation itself and of irradiation facilities, but the claims of these misguided zealots are, quite simply, untrue.

Over 40 irradiation facilities operate safely in the United States today. The plants sterilize a remarkable variety of both consumer and professional items, ranging from baby–bottle nipples and cream containers to scalpels and surgical gloves. The safety record of the industry is excellent, and the facilities treating such products are of the same type that is planned for the Big Island of Hawaii.

The American Council on Science and Health is a consortium of over 250 leading physicians and scientists. For additional science–based information on food irradiation and other health– and food–safety–related issues, please contact Dr. Ruth Kava at kava@acsh.org. or call ACSH at (212) 362–7044.
For more information contact:
The American Council on Science and Health
1995 Broadway, 2nd Floor
New York, NY 10023-5860

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