A Continuing Controversy: Labeling Requirements on Irradiated Foods
Lin, Stanford M.
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CitationA Continuing Controversy: Labeling Requirements on Irradiated Foods (1994 Third Year Paper)
AbstractFor the average American. the words "radiation" and "irradiation" are apt to conjure up images of nuclear weapons. radioactive waste, x-rays. and other unpleasant materials associated with health dangers. Yet these words are also displayed on the labels of food products treated with a irradiation process which made the foods safer for consumers to eat. Food irradiation. currently approved for use on several foods, kills microorganisms and insects which could pose substantial health risks to consumers. Irradiation can also be used to retard spoilage and ripening of fruits and ~'egetables to increase their shelf life. Despite its potential benefits, irradiation and the labeling of irradiated foods has been a subject of controversy since its inception. Since 1966, the Food and Drug Administration ("FDA") has required irradiated foods to be labeled as such, but because the initial foods approved for irradiation treatment were limited to potatoes and wheat, the process was not widely publicized. In 1986. however, FDA expanded the list of approved foods to include fruits. vegetables, and spices, and revised its labeling regulations to require that irradiated products be labeled at both the wholesale and the retail level. The promulgation of these guidelines drew criticism from the food industry. Congressmen, and several consumer groups and remains a hotly debated topic today.
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