Food irradiation is a process by which food is exposed to ionizing radiation to destroy microorganisms, bacteria, viruses, or insects that might be present in the food. One of the purposes for food irradiation is to prolong the shelf-life of food. It is also used to delay the ripening of fruits or the sprouting of vegetables.
The new study arose from a mysterious affliction of pregnant cats. A company testing the effects of irradiated food on growth and development reported that some cats fed such a diet developed severe neurological dysfunction, including movement disorders, vision loss and paralysis.
“After being on the diet for three to four months, the pregnant cats started to develop progressive neurological disease,” says Duncan, a professor of medical sciences at the UW-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine.
Myelin is a fatty substance that forms a sheath for nerve fibers, known as axons, and facilitates the conduction of nerve signals. Its loss through disease causes impairment of sensation, movement, cognition and other functions, depending on which nerves are affected.
The afflicted cats were shown to have severe and widely distributed demyelination of the central nervous system. In cats removed from the diet, demyelinated axons slowly became remyelinated, but the restored myelin sheaths were still not as thick as healthy myelin.
In this report, the central point is that the cats recovered slowly from the “severe neurological dysfunctions” after they stopped eating irradiated food. The researchers totally disregarded the fact that irradiation caused the damage to begin with.
This should be raising major red flags that irradiation is NOT as safe as food safety officials would have you believe, but then the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has already turned a blind eye on decades’ worth of alarming data on food irradiation.
• Irradiation damages food by breaking up molecules and creating free radicals. The free radicals kill some bacteria, but not all! The free radicals bounce around in the food, damage vitamins and enzymes, and combine with existing chemicals (like pesticides) in the food to form new chemicals, called unique radiolytic products (URPs).
• Some of these URPs are known toxins (e.g., benzene, formaldehyde). Some are unique to irradiated foods and never studied. In the approval of irradiation, the long-term effect of these new chemicals in our diet were never studied.
• Irradiated foods lose 5%-80% of vitamins A, C, E, K or B complex. That’s a big range, but foods vary greatly. Different foods lose different vitamins. Also, the amount of loss changes when the dose of irradiation or storage time is changed.
• Most of the food in the American diet is already approved for irradiation by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA): beef, pork, lamb, poultry, wheat, wheat flour, vegetables, fruits, eggs in the shell, seeds for sprouting, spices, herb teas. (Dairy is already pasteurized).
Who Does Irradiation Benefit?
Food safety officials like to pass irradiation off as the latest technology in food safety, and a way to keep dangerous organisms off of your food. In reality, what it does is give agribusiness the green light to grow and process their food in filthy conditions.
After all, they’re going to nuke everything later anyway, so why go to the trouble of actually growing your food in sanitary conditions to begin with? Irradiation is essentially a very effective medium for masking filthy conditions in slaughterhouses and food processing plants.
The solution to creating healthier, safer foods lies in cleaning up the growing conditions and processing plants, and most certainly in returning farming to a small-scale basis — not in dousing our food with varying levels of radiation.