Sorry if this isn't up your alley, but it's important to me, and I think to many of you. I think it's time to move beyond little lifestyle changes (which are also important), to speaking up in policy forums. Here is an opportunity. I'd love to see these comments jump in number to send a little message that we are noticing the poor governance of our food supply. Maybe this should be prefaced with: I do not trust the FDA, at all...
In response to spinach troubles, the FDA recently announced a rule allowing manufacturers to irradiate spinach and iceberg lettuce. You might like to know that other foods are already being processed with radiation, to kill off bacteria and extend shelf life, including meats and other fruits and vegetables. Irradiation is not acceptable processing under the USDA's 'organic' guidelines, only for non-organic foods. Here are some thoughts from Europe.
From Wikipedia, "food irradiation is the process of exposing food to ionizing radiation in order to destroy microorganisms, bacteria, viruses, or insects that might be present in the food. Further applications include sprout inhibition, delay of ripening, increase of juice yield, and improvement of re-hydration. Irradiation is a more general term of deliberate exposure of materials to radiation to achieve a technical goal. As such it is also used on non-food items, such as medical hardware, plastics, tubes for gas-pipelines, hoses for floor-heating, shrink-foils for food packaging, automobile parts, wires and cables (isolation), tires, and even gemstones."
But let's remember, we don't generally ingest these objects...
A food's make-up (fats, carbohydrates, etc...) determine what exactly changes in the food's content once irradiated. Spinach and lettuce are mostly water, so the result isn't totally damaging. But it's the basic idea that it is causing free radicals, bacterial mutations, and generally altering the DNA of your food. That just seems weird to me.
FDA is accepting comments and opposition until Sept 21st. Here is where you can comment. - http://www.regulations.gov/
Make sure you include the docket # - FDA-1999-F-2405
Click on the Add Comments button, and go to town. You can submit as an Individual Consumer in the Submitter Category box. You can post as anonymous or with your name.
Here is some recommended text that I modified a bit from another commenter...
My already poor trust in the FDA is only being deteriorated. Just like my food's nutritional qualities.
Allowing irradiation of lettuce and spinach is an irrational response to a continuing problem of mass-farming and lax health regulation and inspection. The reason that we have seen an increase in the outbreak of salmonella and e. coli is that the farms, handling, and distribution centers are filthy. Irradiation is not the answer for food-borne illness. It is a overly simplistic bandage to offer a false level of confidence in the public sector. It is only serving the needs of the out-of-control food industry.
Irradiation is not a safe solution. Not only do we see vitamin loss and the loss of essential fatty acids in irradiated foods, there is a real possibility of promoting a mutation of the strains of e. coli and other food-borne microorganisms. Additionally, there are concerns over the formation of free radicals, which can set off chain reactions in the body destroying antioxidants, tearing
apart cell membranes, and making the body more susceptible to cancer, diabetes,
heart disease, liver damage, muscular breakdown etc.
I insist that the public not be misled and ill-informed. While simple labeling in the grocery may allow a consumer to make her own choice about the use of irrradiated food (which seems poorly enforced anyway), this does not prevent restaurants, school lunchrooms, hospitals, etc. from serving unknowing consumers foods that have been irradiated. Given the known and potential health concerns, this is hardly an acceptable solution.
Please take all comments into consideration, and understand that we ARE noticing the poor governance of our food supply.
Again, sorry if you don't care about this. But maybe forward it on to another friend that may.
Your public service announcement person on patrol ...