Thousands Call for Strong Labeling of Irradiated Foods

July 21, 1999

Thousands Call for Strong Labeling of Irradiated Foods

Consumers Demand to Know When Food is Nuked

WASHINGTON, D.C. ? Thousands of citizens across the country have writtten to the Food and Drug Administration to voice their concern about the proposal to remove labeling requirements for food treated by irradiation.

Members of the public had until July 19 to register their complaints about the FDA proposal to weaken or make temporary the labeling of poultry, meat, vegetables and other food products that have been irradiated.

Public Citizen, a consumer advocacy organization with 150,000 members nationwide, hand-delivered more than 1,000 comments to the FDA to oppose the anti-consumer regulation on the final day of the comment period. In addition, approximately 20,000 letters to the FDA were facilitated through the organizing efforts of Public Citizen and others. The public comment period was extended from May 18 at the request of Public Citizen, other consumer groups and thousands of Americans.

“This outpouring of letters from the American public shows that health-conscious people are extremely concerned that the federal government would deny them the right to choose the kind of food they want to buy for their families,” said Wenonah Hauter, director of Public Citizen?s Critical Mass Energy Project. “If people want to buy food that has been irradiated, that?s fine, but they should have the ability to choose and not have it forced down their throats.”

In April, a poll commissioned by the American Association of Retired Persons and the Center for Science in the Public Interest found that 88.6 percent of Americans favor labeling of irradiated food. A 1997 poll conducted by CBS News found that 73 percent of the public opposes irradiation, and 77 percent of the public would not want to eat irradiated food.

Public Citizen intends to meet with the FDA to ensure the public continues to be informed about the decision-making process. The group also plans to monitor the U.S. Department of Agriculture and its efforts to introduce irradiated meat products into the market.