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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.

Join The Conversation
Spectra Spectra 9 years
It's not RADIOACTIVITY, people. There is a huge difference between simply zapping food with radiation (like your microwave does and like sunlight does naturally) and eating something that is emitting its own radioactivity. Irradiation is a very safe and effective way to sort of "insure" slaughterhouses against any contamination. I think it's actually a good idea because it provides another layer of protection against bacteria and there is no risk of resistance formation.
snowbunny11 snowbunny11 9 years
While the irradiation process might not be harmful, it grosses me out that it is being used to loosen standards for meat and food handling. When irradiation is used on meat, the slaughterhouses don't worry so much when the stomachs split open and spill fecal matter on the meat because it gets irradiated. The irradiation doesn't give me the heebie jeebies, so long as it works...
ladybug41 ladybug41 9 years
I am not in the US, so I cannot comment on the FDA, but I work with radiation in my profession. Irradiating food will not cause any change that would afect health. Irradiation does not turn food "radioactive". It is preferable to chemical preservatives.
tko24 tko24 9 years
Not to sound like a conspiracy theorist, but can we really trust the FDA?
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