Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
Climate Change Could Sting Allergy, Asthma Sufferers
Obesity May Raise Kids' Allergy Risk
New Insights Show Ginseng Fights Inflammation
Indian Spice May Thwart Liver Damage
Indigo Ointment Benefits Psoriasis Patients
Safe Toys for Dogs
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
Beware of Dog Bites
Resistance Training Boosts Mobility in Knee Arthritis Patients
Frankincense Provides Relief for Osteoarthritis
Using a Balloon to Repair a Broken Back
Study Suggests Link Between Cell Phones and Brain Tumors
Higher Vitamin D Intake Could Cut Cancer Risk
Meditation May Reduce Stress in Breast Cancer Patients
Transition From Home to Hospital Rarely Seamless
Stressed Health Care Workers Battle 'Compassion Fatigue'
Babies Born in High Pollen Months at Wheezing Risk
Night Shift Work Hard on the Heart
An Apple a Day May Help Keep Heart Disease Away
Bad Marriages Harder on Women's Health
Health Tip: After Liposuction
Gum Chewing May Cut Craving for Snacks
New Genetic Links to Baldness Discovered
Good Oral Hygiene May Protect Against Heart Infections
Biological Product Shows Promise Against Gum Disease
Scientists Find Gene for Tooth Enamel
Diabetes Linked to Cognitive Problems
Arthritis Hits More Than Half of Diabetics
Study Shows Turmeric May Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
Eat Up, But Eat Healthy This Holiday Season
Is Coffee Good or Bad for Your Health?
Six Healthy-Sounding Foods That Really Aren't
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Air Quality Better in Northeast, Midwest
Common Pesticide Tied to Development Delays in Kids
Staying Slim Is Good for the Environment
Glaucoma Associated With Reading Impairments in Elderly
Drinking Green Tea May Protect Eyes
Contact Lens Cases Often Contaminated
Avoiding a Holiday Season of Discontent
Simple Exercise Precautions To Help Keep Baby Boomers Fit
Vigorous Exercise Can Cut Breast Cancer Risk
Soothing Imagery May Help Rid Some Kids of Stomach Pain
Bowel Prep Harder on Women Than Men
New Guidelines Issued for Management of IBS
Hand-Washing Habits Still Need Improvement: Survey Says
Vitamin D Best Taken With Largest Meal of Day, Study Finds
Coffee Cuts Liver Scarring in Hepatitis C
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Save Your Aging Brain, Try Surfing The Web
Subway Defibrillators Save Lives
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Fatty Fish May Cut Heart Failure Risk in Men
More Steps a Day Lead to Better Health
Cocoa in Chocolate May Be Good for the Heart
Poor Restroom Cleaning Causes Cruise-Ship Sickness
Swine Flu Is Now a Pandemic Says W.H.O.
Grapefruit Compound Inhibits Hepatitis C Virus
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
Health Tip: Back Pain in Children
Music May Temper Pain in Preemies
Babies Cared For In Others Homes Might Become Heavy Toddlers
Countdown to Hair Loss
Exercise May Prevent Prostate Cancer: Study Shows
The Dark Side of Vegetarianism
Meaningful Conversations Boost Kids' Language Skills
Breast-Fed Baby May Mean Better Behaved Child
Living Alone Increases Odds of Developing Dementia
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
Woman in America Are Delaying Motherhood, Study Says
Placebo Acupuncture Tied to Higher IVF Pregnancies
Breast-Feeding May Protect a Woman's Heart
Older People at Greater Risk of Swine Flu Death
Money May Matter, Health-Wise, in Old Age
Want Better Health in the New Year, Add Exercise to Your Day
Moderate Aerobics May Ease Insomnia Symptoms
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
Exercise During Pregnancy Keeps Newborn Size Normal
Air Pollution Slows Women's Marathon Times
Smoking Ups Risk of Second Breast Cancer
Add your Article

The Food Irradiation Story

Food irradiation involves exposing food to ionizing radiation in order to destroy bacteria, viruses, molds, and insects. In essence, this damages the DNA of these microorganisms so they can no longer proliferate. Food irradiation can kill up to 99% of pathogens, including E. coli, Salmonella, and Listeria. These bacteria can cause serious or even fatal food poisoning. An example is the September 2006 recall of spinach and lettuce linked to E. coli, which resulted in three deaths and over 200 people getting sick. On August 22, 2008, the FDA amended the food additive regulations to allow for the safe use of ionizing radiation for control of food-borne pathogens and the extension of shelf-life in fresh iceberg lettuce and spinach. The FDA claims that this technology will not have a negative effect on the safety of these food products. But are we being told the whole story?

Irradiation can affect the flavor and texture of the food and reduce its nutritional value through changes in the food’s chemistry. The treatment of foods high in protein, fats, and water leads to the creation of “radiolytic products”. The FDA says that these compounds are not unique to irradiated foods and claims these are also found in raw, heated, and stored foods. They also say there is no evidence to suggest it is harmful to health. BUT the reality is there aren’t adequate studies of the long-term effects of eating large amounts of these modified foods over time. The results of long-term animal studies do suggest that irradiation can cause genetic damage and cancer. As previously mentioned, that is how irradiation works.

The next chapter in the food irradiation story involves the issue of public food safety. But food irradiation may not be the only strategy to optimize public food safety. Some food safety experts have concerns that it simply provides a way to avoid dealing with the problem at the source, specifically the unsanitary conditions of industrial agriculture. According to Caroline Smith Dewaal, The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) Food Safety Director, "produce safety must become a priority for the FDA, starting at the farm." CSPI has suggested some common-sense food safety control measures starting at the farm to control food-borne pathogens. These were outlined in a 2006 petition to the FDA.

The U.S. regulator allows irradiation for safety of meat, poultry, molluscan shellfish, dried spices, and now fresh iceberg lettuce and fresh spinach (even bagged versions of the packaging material is approved for this use). Irradiation is used at the end of production and should not be viewed as a silver bullet treatment. Irradiated food must bear the radura logo with the words ‘treated with radiation’ or ‘treated by irradiation’. But keep in mind that there are exceptions, including plant-food ingredients that have been processed again (applesauce), multiple ingredient products where not all of the individual ingredients have been irradiated, spices, herb teas, and ingredients in supplements. Organic foods cannot be irradiated and may be your best option to avoid food irradiation products. Be sure to read all product labels if you do not wish to consume foods that have undergone these 'treatments'. The food irradiation story comes down to accountability for public food safety, in addition to the concerns of the effects of the irradiation process on food quality and human health. The final chapter has yet to be written.

-Dr. Christine Gonzalez (Integrative PharmD, CHC)