The clear and present danger you’re probably eating every day

The clear and present danger you’re probably eating every day

I’ve been on the fence about food irradiation for years. When it first made headlines and people began worrying about it, I did a little research of my own–and didn’t find anything that particularly concerned me. No, there weren’t any studies proving that it was good for you–but there also wasn’t enough proof to convince me that it was terribly bad for your either. Plus, it was especially appealing to me because it eliminated trichinosis in pork. Pork is one of the most nutritious of meats, but it had to be cooked well done to kill the trich. In doing so, a great deal of the nutrient value of the meat is spoiled and the overcooking causes homocysteine levels in the blood to increase. Irradiation made pork safe to eat again. Or at least it seemed to.

But it has always been unclear as to what new toxins we’re being exposed to as a result of eating irradiated food.

So I thought it was about time I took a second look at food irradiation. What I saw wasn’t pretty. I received a startling e-mail alert on this subject recently from an information wellspring called Health Sciences Institute (HSI). These alerts come five days a week and they’re free. You won’t find many bargains like that. (To sign up, go to

In this edition, the HSI e-Alert reported: “Irradiation is a process by which a food product is exposed to extremely high doses of radiation to kill bacteria, parasites, and fungi that may cause spoilage or disease. And if that were all irradiation did, that would be fine. But there’s much more to it than that.”

Irradiation turns even the most nutritious foods into junk foods

In an earlier e-Alert, HSI panelist Allan Spreen, M.D., stated that an abundance of nutrients are eliminated by this process. Jon Barron, another distinguished panelist, agreed, and added, “As much as 70 percent of the vitamin A, B1 and B2 in irradiated milk is destroyed, and about 30 percent of vitamin C.”

And Barron elaborated with the following sobering information: “Food is exposed to ‘hard’ irradiation, usually gamma rays from a source like cobalt-80, in doses of 100,000 to 3,000,000 rads. To give you a sense of how high a dose this is, understand that a dose of just 10,000 rads will totally destroy any living tissue.”

Any living tissue? Let’s analyze that. When a hog or a steer is killed, the animal is dead, but its tissues aren’t, and this is when meat is at its most nutritious–if it’s eaten fresh and not “cooked to death” (an apt term). So if 10,000 rads totally destroys living tissue, then irradiated meat that you purchase from the supermarket is essentially nutrition-free.

This is not simple conjecture–the facts are in: Food irradiation is a clear and present danger to your health.

Rats are dying of IFS–are you next?

Even the FDA admits to some shocking results from animal research. In its final report approving food radiation, the FDA admitted that when up to 35 percent of the lab-animal diet was irradiated, the studies had to be terminated because of “premature mortality or morbidity.” And in another investigation at the Medical College of Virginia, rats fed irradiated beef “died of hemorrhagic syndrome in 34 days.”

How would you like for your tombstone to read: “Here lies Joe Citizen–Died from IFS at the age of 50.” IFS stands for “Irradiated Food Syndrome.” I made it up, but if rats get it from eating radiotoxic foods, then chances are good that we can, too.

One last testimonial, from a friend and colleague of mine who said: “Ionizing radiation causes free radicals and lipid peroxidation. Ionizing radiation sterilizes by scrambling molecules. It changes molecular structure. Nutrients can become non-nutrients, or even anti-nutrients. It can transform nutrients into ‘empty’ calories, like refining. It’s a conspiracy to extend shelf life and enhance profits for the ‘Corporation.’ I won’t consume any of that stuff if I can help it.”

Action to take:

Unfortunately, aside from moving to a farm, growing all your own vegetables, and slaughtering all your own meat, there isn’t a lot you can do to make sure you aren’t eating (or drinking) any irradiated items.

Companies are only required to put the irradiation symbol (called a radura) on whole-food products that have been exposed to radiation. If anything at all is done to or added to that item after it has been irradiated, the manufacturer doesn’t have to label it. Jon Barron gave a good example in the HSI e-Alert, saying that “an irradiated orange would require a label, irradiated orange juice would not.”

So with that loophole working in favor of the irradiation and food industries, all we can do is be on the lookout for those foods that are labeled and just flat-out refuse to buy them. The radura symbol is green and looks like a flower–a dot with two petals under it–inside a segmented circle. I guess it seemed less intimidating than a skull and crossbones. RH


“Radiation Nation,” Health Sciences Institute e-Alert, 2/10/03