Safety Issues

Is Irradiated Food Safe?

Irradiated food can safely be consumed by anyone. In fact, irradiated poultry, meat and seafood (where approved) are recommended because of greater safety.

How is Safety Tested?

Safety testing of irradiated foods has taken place since the early 1950's. Irradiated foods have been fed to several species of animals, some up to 40 generations, and people have eaten irradiated foods as part of their total diet. Additionally irradiated foods have been evaluated chemically. Studies have consistently shown no increase in cancer, birth defects or any other negative effect.

Are There Hazards with Food Irradiation?

Today's consumers are increasingly concerned about environmental and worker safety. Since there are about 40 irradiators in the United States and many more world wide, a safety record is readily available.

Shipment of cobalt60 and other radioisotopes is governed by stringent rules and regulations. Cobalt60 is sealed in metal rods and must be shipped in reinforced, double encapsulated metal casks. These casks are designed to withstand the most severe accidents, including collisions, punctures and exposure to fire and water depths.

Are Irradiated Foods Labeled?

Government regulations require irradiated food at the retail level to be labeled "Irradiated" and to bear an international logo, the radura.

The petals represent the food, the central circle the radiation source, and the broken circle illustrate the rays from the energy source.

For irradiated foods that are not packaged, such as bulk containers of fruit and vegetable, retailers must prominently display the required logo and phrase. Labeling requirements apply only to whole foods that have been irradiated.