FDA Allowing Food
Companies To Change Irradiation Label to
WASHINGTON -- U.S. food companies can seek federal approval to avoid using the word "irradiation" on labels of foods treated with the bacteria-killing process, and instead use language such as "cold pasteurization," the Food and Drug Administration said.
Irradiation, which has been endorsed by the World Health Organization, exposes food to low doses of electrons or gamma rays to destroy deadly microorganisms such as E. coli and salmonella. It has been approved by U.S. regulators for use with raw chicken and beef as well as spices and dried seasonings. But food companies have been slow to adopt the treatment for raw meat and poultry because of the cost of the equipment and worries about consumer acceptance.
Currently, foods treated with the technology must carry labels saying either "treated with irradiation" or "treated by radiation." They must also bear a special symbol, known as the radura, which consists of green petals in a broken circle. Some food makers say consumers interpret the radura symbol and the word "irradiation" as a food safety warning.
Critics say the industry is trying to use euphemisms to hide that their products were irradiated. Some green groups and environmentalists fear using high-energy radiation in food products could have harmful side effects for consumers.
The FDA issued guidelines explaining how companies can petition the agency to use more neutral language on the label of food treated with irradiation. In its petition, a food company must submit consumer research that shows a comprehension of the proposed label.
- More on Irradiation of Food
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