I Want to Find Irradiated Salad Greens in My Local Grocery Store

 

Written by Rod Adams

Published on August 28th, 2008

Source of Article:  http://cleantechnica.com/2008/08/28/i-want-to-find-irradiated-salad-greens-in-my-local-grocery-store/

 

Call me a Popeye, but I like having fresh green salads for lunch or dinner. Unfortunately, it is sometimes risky to eat raw vegetables because of the risk of contamination by common bacteria like E. coli, salmonella and listeria. I have long wondered when it would be possible to purchase greens that had been irradiated to kill the bacteria without changing the texture, flavor or nutritional value.

My wait is now closer to ending. On August 21, the US Food and Drug Administration approved the use of ionizing radiation at doses that will drastically reduce the population of the target bacteria on spinach and iceberg lettuce without harming the food.

The type of radiation that will be used - high energy gamma rays - cannot cause food to be come radioactive. A second characteristic of high energy gamma is that it can be administered with great precision by controlling the exposure times, distances and angles.

Gamma irradiation food processing plants can also be quite energy efficient. Though some processors use electrically powered devices to create gamma rays, there are others that use selected radioactive isotopes like Cobalt-60 or Cesium-137.

Because of the risk of recontamination during handling and transportation, I suspect that irradiated foods will be sold in sealed bags. The technique of irradiating materials in sealed bags has been in use for decades with medical equipment.

Since people have a right to know about the processing - either because they are like me and want the product or because they might have some reason to avoid the product - irradiated products will be marked with a special label called a radura.

At least some of the many people with suppressed immune systems are quite happy with the news and are anxiously awaiting approval from the FDA for irradiation treatment of additional fruits and vegetables. For them, techniques that improve food safety are matters of life and death, not just a matter of preventing temporary discomfort.

 

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