Irradiation. The radiating of meat and produce which people, old and young will consume. This write up is based upon our opinion of meat and well being for the population, but it has a solid base of scientific articles, journals, periodicals, and professional statements to help inform you of what you are actually buying and consuming.
Now, this ‘new’ technology has been kept pretty quiet, very few people even know about it and even fewer know it is already happening. In 2016, Health Canada announced that it would allow for the sale of irradiated ground beef on grocery store shelves across the country (Russell, 2016). It was said that irradiation would improve the safety of their products, what does it actually mean? By definition Irradiation is a process by which a food product is exposed to high doses of radiation, types that are permitted: gamma-rays, high-energy electrons and x-rays. Food irradiation is known as a cold process. It does not significantly increase the temperature or change the physical or sensory characteristics of most foods. Fresh or frozen meat can be irradiated without cooking it.
However, it is proven to alter the content of food. The nutritional content of irradiated foods is seriously compromised. Irradiation can destroy between 5 percent and 80 percent of vitamins and nutrients found in a variety of foods including essential vitamins A, B complex, C, E, and K. For example, irradiated eggs lose 80 percent of vitamin A and orange juice loses 48 percent of beta-carotene (Curtis, 2013).
Irradiation not only reduces the food’s nutritional content, but also changes its flavor, texture and odor. For example, turkey and pork can become bright red while beef can turn from red into a shade of green or brown. Numerous studies show that irradiated foods are inferior in taste, texture, and smell to non-irradiated foods (Curtis, 2013).
According to the Canadian Meat Council; during irradiation, the energy waves affect unwanted organisms, but are not retained in the food and the food does not become radioactive. Irradiation is radiant energy which disappears when the energy source is removed. This result is similar to food cooked in a microwave oven (Canadian Meat Council, 2017). We already have many, many scientific journals, articles and papers published on the negative side effects of the microwave oven; which kills any and all bacteria, nutrients and vitamins alike. There is absolutely no nutritional value in any of the food that comes out of a microwave, but that’s another topic entirely.
“With the irradiated process you basically get rid of most pathogens, like E. Coli and Salmonella, making the food much safer to eat and actually extends the shelf life of meat,” said Sylvain Charlebois, a professor of food distribution and policy at Dalhousie University (Russell, 2016). However, the meat itself should not be coming into contact, nor be raised with any of these health concerns if it is raised and processed properly and responsibly in the first place. The idea of irradiation first launched back in 1996, but it was met with a huge backlash from not only the farmers, but consumers as well. In a 1997 CBS nationwide poll, 77% of US consumers did not want irradiated food. This public resistance is why food trade associations have been plotting to eliminate all requirements for labeling irradiated food (Eversole, 2008).
The scary part is that in the United States, the Food and Drug Administration has approved several foods for irradiation including; Beef and Pork, shellfish, fruits and vegetables, and spices and seasonings (Russell, 2016). Our Canadian meat is sold across the border and most of our meat is imported from the U.S!
List of Some Products that are already irradiated:
- Fresh meat and poultry (including whole or cut up birds, skinless poultry, pork chops, roasts, stew meat, liver, hamburgers, ground meat, and ground poultry)
- Wheat and wheat powder
- White potatoes
- Many spices
- Dry vegetable seasonings
- Fresh shell eggs
- Fresh produce
Critics of irradiated food say it produces toxic compounds, like benzene or toluene, and reduces the nutritional value of food while also changing the taste of meat (Russell, 2016). Officials say such concerns were taken into consideration. “Health Canada developed the new regulations after conducting a thorough assessment, and concluded that irradiation is a safe and effective treatment to reduce harmful bacteria in ground beef.” The scientific review noted also that “a major Canadian nutritional institute” indicated “all can benefit from having the choice of irradiated foods, but especially those at greater risk (e.g., people with compromised immune systems, such as transplant recipients and individuals with cancer and HIV/AIDS, and those in hospitals and long term care facilities” (Canadian Meat Council, 2017).
Irradiation does not replace any current food safety standards, rather is “another tool to be used to maintain food safety,” the Canadian Food Agency states (Kohut, 2017). Some researchers have even compared it to releasing the same chemicals as a BBQ’d piece of meat! “When you use the barbecue, you produce billions of free radicals. You also produce toxic compounds because you burn the fatty acids,” said Charlebois (Russell, 2016). WHAT IS THIS NONSENSE?!
To put into perspective, Dr. Joseph Michael Mercola who is an alternative medicine proponent, osteopathic physician, and web entrepreneur delves into the actual science behind Irradiation. Irradiated herbs, seasonings and spices are exposed to HALF A BILLION chest X-ray’s worth of gamma radiation. This information is clearly publicized by the USDA and FDA.
The FDA presently supports the use of Cobalt-60 culled from nuclear reactors on all domestically produced conventional food.
The level of gamma-radiation used starts at 1 KiloGray — equivalent to 16,700,000 chest x-rays — and goes all the way up to 30KiloGray (500,000,000 chest x-rays or 10,000 times a human lethal dose).
According to Green Med Info:
“Despite the irresponsible promotion of this process as safe, food irradiation destroys much of the vitamin content of food, produces a number of toxic by-products: formaldehyde, benzene, and formic acid, as well as unique radiolytic products, e.g. 2-alklycyclobutanoes, that have been demonstrated to be cytotoxic (damages cells), genotoxic (damages DNA), and carcinogenic (causes cancer) in test tube and animal studies.” (Mercola, 2011). 2-alkylcyclobutanones (2-ACBs) are radiolytic derivatives of triglycerides found exclusively in irradiated food. The compounds are generated proportionally to fat content of the food and the dose of absorbed radiation. That means the more fat = more toxic compounds created; the leaner the meat, the less toxins.
Opponents also say there hasn’t been any research on long-term effects on humans who eat irradiated foods or on workers who oversee the treatment process (Russell, 2016).
Research in animals suggests the compounds may promote tumor growth and colon cancer, and studies show 2-alkylcyclobutanones are able to cross the intestinal barrier, enter into the bloodstream, and be stored in the fat tissue of an animal. The compounds have also been shown to be cytotoxic and genotoxic, which means they may damage cells and DNA, respectively. Studies on human cells also revealed potential cancer-causing effects, with researchers concluding “this compound may be regarded as a possible risk factor for processes in colon carcinogenesis related to initiation and progression.” (Mercola, 2011).
Another study found that cats developed “mysterious” and “remarkable” severe neurological dysfunction, including movement disorders, vision loss and paralysis, after being fed a diet of irradiated foods during gestation. When they were taken off the irradiated foods, they slowly recovered. This is a major clue that irradiated foods deserve some serious regulatory scrutiny, but unfortunately they have already infiltrated the food system. (Mercola, 2011).
Now, this is mostly geared towards the U.S Food and Drug Administration, but the effects are the same regardless of country. Not to mention more than ¾ quarters of our meat and food is from the USA. The FDA claims, “Irradiation is an important food safety tool in fighting foodborne illness,” noting that the sources and amounts of radiation applied to foods are not strong enough to cause the food to become radioactive. They also state that “food irradiation does not significantly change the nutrient content, flavor, or texture of food.” However, “The FDA presently supports and actively promotes the use of Cobalt-60 culled from Nuclear Reactors as a form of “electronic pasteurization” on all domestically produced conventional food (Mercola, 2011).
Dr. Gayle Eversole, PhD, ND also provides support to Dr. Mercola’s evidence and statements.
Irradiation produces toxic by-products in the food.
Ionizing radiation knocks electrons out of atoms and creates free radicals. These free radicals react with food components, creating new radiolytic products, some of which are toxic (benzene, formaldehyde, lipid peroxides) and some of which may be unique to irradiated foods. No one knows the long term impact of eating unknown quantities of these damaged foods. Studies on animals fed irradiated foods have shown increased tumors, reproductive failures and kidney damage. Chromosomal abnormalities occurred in children from India who were fed freshly irradiated wheat (Eversole, 2008).
Irradiation using radioactive materials is an environmental hazard.
In Georgia, radioactive water escaped from an irradiation facility; the taxpayers were stuck with $47 million in cleanup costs. In New Jersey, radioactive water was poured into drains that emptied into the public sewer system. Few communities want the increased risks of hosting irradiation facilities and the periodic transport of radioactive materials to and from irradiators. Numerous worker exposures have occurred worldwide (Eversole, 2008).
Irradiation is a quick fix with long-term consequences.
Irradiation doesn’t kill all bacteria; those that survive are radiation-resistant. Eventually these bacteria will require higher doses of radiation. Irradiation doesn’t kill the bacterium that causes botulism, or viruses. It can’t be used on dairy products, a major source of food poisoning. If the labels are removed, irradiation will be used very widely because producers will ‘follow the leader’ and irradiate to prevent themselves from liability for food poisoning, no matter how remote the possibility. The costs, as always, will be passed on to the consumer (Eversole, 2008).
Irradiation is not the only option for providing clean and sustainable food. Cleaning up filthy slaughter houses, slowing down processing lines, increasing the number of federal meat inspectors, and encouraging local and organic agriculture instead of factory farming are just a few proposals that can lead to long-term food safety solutions without the risks of irradiation (Eversole, 2008).
Contamination is possible during any of the following steps of food production:
Open field production -> Harvesting -> Field packing -> Greenhouse production -> Packinghouse or field packing -> Repacking and other distribution operations -> Fresh-cut/value-added processing -> Food service and retail -> Consumer
As you can see, the more steps your food goes through before it reaches your plate, the greater your chances of contamination becomes.
The FDA is quick to state that “Irradiation is not a substitute for good sanitation and process control in meat and poultry plants. It is an added layer of safety.” But it is, in essence, a tool to wipe out bacteria, parasites and other potential pathogens that linger in food. This means food manufacturers have an out of sorts … After all, they’re going to nuke everything later anyway, so why go to the trouble of actually growing your food or processing your food in sanitary conditions to begin with?
Irradiation is essentially a very effective medium for masking filthy conditions in federal slaughterhouses and food processing plants. The foundational solution to this problem lies in preventing contamination at the source — on the farm, during processing and shipping, and so on — not in wiping out pathogens later using questionable technological interventions like radiation! There simply shouldn’t be any need for irradiation, as there simply shouldn’t be E. coli in your lettuce or Salmonella in your poultry in the first place (Mercola, 2011).
This is why we farm the way we do. There are no hidden factions or methods in our animal raising. We have a closed looped farm, meaning there are no outside influences on our animals. The only time they are exposed to the outside world is when they go to the abattoir, which is a local one up in Sprucedale, ON. This provincially, locally owned and run abattoir is kept to the highest standards of cleanliness, control over the meat coming in and out, and are humane. Federal abattoirs are where the problems lie.
The new regulations do not require that Canadian ground beef be irradiated, simply that it is allowed to be. Irradiated beef will be required to be labelled as such. In Canada, consumer choice is assured by a Consumer Packaging and Labelling Regulations requirement that irradiated foods be identified on the labels of prepackaged products and that signage accompanies bulk displays of irradiated foods. The label or signage must reveal clearly that the food has been irradiated with both a written statement (“irradiated”, “treated with radiation” or “treated by irradiation”) and the following international symbol (Canadian Meat Council, 2017):
Left: Radura symbol for irradiated beef and other foods
Right: Radiation symbol used to warn people of radiated areas, mostly hospitals
However, there are exceptions:
Irradiated meat used in another product (such as sausage) does not have to contain the radura image on the package (it does have to list irradiated meat in the ingredients, though).
Restaurants are not required to disclose the use of irradiated foods. So be aware that any time you eat out, you have no way of knowing if your food has been irradiated (Mercola, 2011).
How Will I Know if My Food Has Been Irradiated?
The FDA requires that irradiated foods bear the international symbol for irradiation. Look for the Radura symbol along with the statement “Treated with radiation” or “Treated by irradiation” on the food label. Bulk foods, such as fruits and vegetables, are required to be individually labeled or to have a label next to the sale container. The FDA does not require that individual ingredients in multi-ingredient foods (e.g., spices) be labeled. It is important to remember that irradiation is not a replacement for proper food handling practices by producers, processors, and consumers. Irradiated foods need to be stored, handled, and cooked in the same way as non-irradiated foods, because they could still become contaminated with disease-causing organisms after irradiation if the rules of basic food safety are not followed (Administration, 2016).
The Canadian Meat Council, who has long been funded by governmental bodies and pharmaceutical companies claims that “irradiation offers a longstanding, well-researched, internationally accepted and proven methodology for further reducing the potential presence of harmful pathogens in meat” (Canadian Meat Council, 2017). And yet, it is just the opposite! There is little to no evidence (that hasn’t been funded by the government or big pharma companies) that suggests irradiated meat is good for the consumer, the meat or even the environment.
This is a very serious awakening for the consumer, you are consistently bombarded with terrible food options from all sides! What can you eat? What is safe to eat? What else is going on behind closed doors? All of this is valid suspicion. We are trying our very best to inform you of the procedures and protocols that are changing so that you can make an informed decision as to where your food is coming from. We know that on our end, we are doing everything possible to ensure a quality product that is safe, tasty and well, normal for consumption.
One Farm; One Family; Directly to You
Administration, U. F. (2016 , 06 28). Food Irradiation: What You Need to Know. Retrieved from U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: https://www.fda.gov/food/resourcesforyou/consumers/ucm261680.htm
Canadian Meat Council. (2017). Food Safety- Food Irradiation. Retrieved from Canadian Meat Council Website: http://www.cmc-cvc.com/en/food-safety/food-irradiation
Curtis, N. (2013, September 01). Harmful if swallowed- The Dangers of Food Irradiation. Retrieved from Natural News Website: http://www.naturalnews.com/041878_food_irradiation_harmful_nutrition.html
Eversole, D. G. (2008, April 15). The Dangers of Food Irradiation. Retrieved from Rense Website: http://www.rense.com/general81/foodr.htm
Kohut, T. (2017, February 22). Irradiated ground beef approved by Health Canada. Retrieved from Global News: http://globalnews.ca/news/3265782/irradiated-ground-beef-approved-health-canada/
Mercola, D. (2011, November 05). Never Buy Meat, Potatoes or Herbs With “Treated by Radiation” on the Label. Retrieved from Mercola Website: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/11/05/why-are-your-spices–seasonings-exposed-to-half-a-billion-chest-xrays-worth-of-radiation.aspx
Russell, A. (2016, May 30). What is irradiated beef and is it healthy? Retrieved from Global News: http://globalnews.ca/news/2729913/what-is-irradiated-beef-and-is-it-healthy/