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The FDA Again Ignores Its Own Warnings,


Dec. 7, 2000

The FDA Again Ignores Its Own Warnings,
Legalizes Radiation ‘Treatment’ of Fruit, Vegetable Juice

Public Citizen Challenges the Government’s Latest Irradiation Decision

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Public Citizen is challenging the U.S. Food and Drug Administration s (FDA) Nov. 29 decision to legalize high-level radiation “treatments” of fruit and vegetable juice. This marks the third time in five months the FDA has granted an industry request to expose portions of the American food supply to dangerous doses of radiation despite evidence that irradiated food may not be safe for human consumption.

Public Citizen is challenging the approval by sending a letter to the FDA requesting a public hearing.

Earlier this year, the FDA legalized the irradiation of eggs and sprouting seeds despite questions raised by the agency s own scientists. In previous years, the FDA allowed flour, spices, fruit, vegetables, poultry, pork and beef to be irradiated despite well-documented side effects such as nutrient deficiency, corrupted flavor and texture, and evidence suggesting that irradiated food is harmful to human health.

“The FDA has never seen a food irradiation request it didn t like,” said Wenonah Hauter, director of Public Citizen’s Critical Mass Energy and Environment Program. “Nothing is sacred?- not the eggs and orange juice we have for breakfast, not the soup and salad we have for lunch, not the meat and potatoes we have for dinner. If the FDA has its way, Americans will be eating irradiated food from dawn to dusk. What’s stunning is that the FDA has ignored and misrepresented information indicating that irradiated food is not safe.”

The FDA legalized the irradiation of fruit and vegetable juice despite warnings from agency scientists that radiation destroys nutrients. With orange juice, irradiation destroys 48 percent of the beta carotene, 13 percent of the vitamin C and 10 percent of the vitamin A, according to information submitted to the FDA by California Day-Fresh Foods, which applied for the irradiation permit. In recent internal memos, agency scientists recommended that more tests be conducted before allowing people to drink irradiated juice. The FDA ignored this recommendation, and the agency s official ruling made no mention of these concerns.

Similarly, in a July ruling approving the irradiation of eggs, FDA officials did not mention that irradiation destroys about 80 percent of the vitamin A in eggs, a fact determined by FDA scientists. And in an October ruling, FDA officials stated incorrectly that the agency had analyzed the new chemicals formed when alfalfa and other sprouting seeds are irradiated. In fact, internal agency memos reveal that no such analysis was ever conducted.

“In 10 decisions since 1983, the FDA has used faulty science to approve the legalization of foods,” Hauter said. “The agency has never determined a safe level of radiation to which food can be exposed and still be safe for human consumption, yet it continues to allow our food supply to be corrupted.”