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Label Able: Treated by Irradiation

When you're buying chicken at the store, and the package says "treated with radiation," those little words may make you think twice. I know it sounds like something really bad for you, to eat meat that's gone through radiation, but it's actually a process approved by the FDA. If foods have been irradiated, the FDA requires that they are labeled with a statement such as "treated with radiation” or “treated by irradiation.” They must also show this international symbol for irradiation called the radura.

Don't worry — eating food that's been treated with radiation won't make your eyes glow, or affect the nutrients in the food. What it will do is decrease your chance of eating food contaminated with E. coli bacteria.

Radiation is basically invisible waves that move through the air. Light, infrared heat, and microwaves are all forms of radiant energy. So are radio and TV waves, and toasting and broiling. Irradiation uses shorter wavelengths than radiation, and they're capable of damaging microorganisms, like the ones that can contaminate your food. It won't get rid of all the heeby jeebies that can make you sick, but it can definitely decrease your chances of food poisoning.

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