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Irradiating Won't Eliminate The Botulism, But Will Get the Vitamin A!

of The Morning Call ponders the federal government decision to allow irradiation of some fresh produce, but points out one problem with the policy. Go here for the complete column. Darragh writes:

Three years ago, the FDA sent a letter to lettuce growers, packers, processors and shippers noting its ”serious concern” about 19 E. coli outbreaks involving lettuce and spinach since 1995, resulting in 409 illnesses and two deaths.

Irradiating lettuce and spinach, the FDA said, is important because consumers almost always eat lettuce and often eat spinach uncooked.

But even the FDA acknowledges that irradiating spinach and lettuce will reduce their vitamin content somewhat, particularly Vitamin A. However, since spinach is not a major source of vitamins in Americans’ nutritional intake, FDA concluded that irradiation will not hurt their overall diet.

Irradiating food creates a ”disincentive” for farms to adopt cleaner farming methods, added Bill Freese of the Center for Food Safety in Washington, D.C. ”The way to get safe food is to clean up the filthy conditions at our factory farms,” he said.

In addition, irradiation doesn’t eliminate all bugs, including the bacterium that causes botulism, he noted.

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