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.
FDA must approve any use of irradiation on food and USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) must approve the process and the facility if meat or poultry products are involved. USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service approves use of irradiation for plant quarantine protection.
Several foods have been approved in the United States. The FDA sets the maximum dose permitted on food based on what was petitioned to assure safety. The USDA sets the minimum dose on some foods to assure the desired effect, such as destruction of microorganisms or effect insect quarantine control.
Over 41 countries nationwide have approved use of irradiation for over 30 food products.