Despite assurances from Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ), some consumers remain wary of the safety of irradiated foods.The irradiation process kills bacteria, insects, and moulds by exposing crops to high doses of radiation. Gamma rays, X-rays, or electron beams are typically used to extend the shelf life of foods and reduce spoilage.
Food Irradiation Watch
Members of Friends of the Earth, a federation of local groups that seek a sustainable a socially equitable future, are some of irradiation’s most vocal critics. These protestors oppose the irradiation of all foods, including crops, pet food, and therapeutic goods, for health, social, and environmental reasons. The collective launched the Food Irradiation Watch website as a response to what is believes are biased reports about food irradiation.
“Food irradiation is a risky technology designed to support agri-business with little or no benefit to the consumer,” the group said in a statement.
Friends of the Earth members are particularly concerned following the recent approval of irradiation for capsicum and tomato crops. Herbs, spices, and some tropical fruits are currently treated by the process.
“Despite FSANZ’s support and proponents’ claims, irradiation has not been proven safe as no long-term studies of consumption of an irradiated diet have been conducted,” Friends of the Earth recently stated.
It claims irradiation changes the molecular structure of food. It believes the process causes toxic chemicals which could cause genetic mutations, immune system disorders, reproduction problems, and a host of other disorders.
However, Dr Peter Roberts of New Zealand’s Radiation Advisory Services rejects these theories.
“There is just so much information and so many scientific reviews as to whether it’s safe that I don’t think there should be any doubt that irradiated food is safe,” he said.
Despite such assurances, Friends of the Earth members say they’d prefer farmers use alternative natural measures to eradicate fruit flies, bacteria, and mould.