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Consumers Reject Irradiated Meat in Florida

July 31, 2000

Consumers Reject Irradiated Meat in Florida

Campaign Succeeds in Educating Consumers about the Hazards of Food “Treated” with Radiation

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Two Florida grocers halted sales of irradiated meat due to lack of consumer interest, which resulted in paltry sales. DeLoach’s Meat Market in Lakeland and Stuart’s Fine Foods in Stuart decided to stop selling experimental food products to their customers just days after sales began.

“Florida consumers have exercised the wisdom not to serve unwholesome food to their families. They have voted with their pocketbooks, and the loser in this election is irradiation,” said Wenonah Hauter, director of Public Citizen’s Critical Mass Energy and Environment Program. “Once consumers know the facts about this under-studied, over-hyped technology, they see through the food industry’s smokescreen and refuse to take chances with their families’ health and safety.”

The decision by the two locally owned merchants represents a failure by irradiation proponents to convince the public that food “treated” with the equivalent of tens of millions of chest x-rays is safe for them to eat, Hauter said.

“It’s what we’ve said all along: Consumers are not interested in this product,” said M.J. Williamson, organizer for the Florida Consumer Action Network. “The beef industry is pushing this stuff onto the public. But consumers want clean, wholesome food. They will not settle for anything less.”

Irradiation, touted as a way to kill food-borne pathogens, has numerous harmful side-effects, including the destruction of vitamins and nutrients, poor flavor and texture, and the generation of chemical compounds whose possible effects on the body have not been fully studied. Federal government officials have legalized this technology despite a half-century worth of research revealing serious health problems in lab animals that have eaten irradiated food, including premature death, cancer, immune and reproductive problems, liver and kidney dysfunction, and chromosomal damage.

Public Citizen is leading a national campaign to stop the use of high levels of radiation to “treat” food. More than 200 consumer, environmental and labor organizations representing more than 1 million people have joined this effort. In Florida, the campaign is being led by the Florida Consumer Action Network.