Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) is recommending the irradiation of apples, apricots, cherries, nectarines, peaches, plums, honeydew, rockmelon, strawberries, table grapes, zucchini and squash – the latest move to expand the use of irradiation on fresh produce in Australia. This means that a large part of our fresh food diet can potentially be irradiated, increasing the risks to human health.
DEADLINE FOR SUBMISSIONS: 6pm (Canberra time) 9 October 2014
Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) is recommending apples, apricots, cherries, nectarines, peaches, plums, honeydew, rockmelon, strawberries, table grapes, zucchini and squash be permitted in the latest expansion of the use of irradiation on fresh foods in Australia. NOW is the time to write a submission.
“The treatment is already approved for tomatoes, capsicums, persimmons, herbs and spices, herbal infusions and some tropical fruits….The proposal could potentially push up prices because of mandatory labelling requirements and other costs, risk assessment documents reveal”, reports the Herald Sun.
The proposal is being put forward by Queensland’s Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, one of the agencies ostensibly intended to monitor and police the use of new technologies in food, suggesting a conflict of interest and possible stacking by industry pundits.
“Irradiation is being sought as an alternative treatment to some pesticides, which are no longer permitted or permissions for use have changed,” Food Standards Australia New Zealand chief Steve McCutcheon told the Herald-Sun newspaper, “FSANZ has reviewed the evidence on the safety of these irradiated fruits and found they are safe to eat. The literature also shows the maximum dose permitted does not reduce the nutritional quality.”
However, irradition has been banned by the Australian Government for use on cat food after more than 50 cats became ill or died as a result of eating irradiated products. A high rate of pet neurological disorders in the US is also linked with irradiation. Research has found that irradiation decreases the vitamin content of fresh foods, and creates ‘unique radiolytic products’ that do not occur in nature. Read more about the risks of irradiation [here]
Final approval requires the participation of state ministers, and FSANZ is currently accepting submissions from the public. Read the FSANZ application and submit your letter of rejection here: http://www.foodstandards.gov.au/code/applications/Documents/A1092%20Irradiation-CFS.pdf
In recent weeks clean food advocates have been alerted to the threat of changes to the requirement for labelling of irradiated and GMO foods. We have now received information from the Legislative and Governance Forum on Food Regulation Secretariat that changes to labelling will go to a public consultation and be handled by Food Standards Australia and New Zealand, rather than be at ministerial discretion.
The Blewett Labelling Review (2011) made recommendations to FSANZ:
“That as a general principle all foods or ingredients that have been processed by new technologies (i.e., all technologies that trigger pre-market food safety assessments) be required to be labelled for 30 years from the time of their introduction into the human food chain; the application of this principle to be based on scientific evidence of direct impact on, or modification of, the food/ingredient to be consumed. (Recommendation 28).”
“Recommendation 34: That the requirement for mandatory labelling of irradiated food be reviewed.”
We expect that the review will take these flawed and contradictory recommendations into consideration. The final feport – Labelling Logic was publicly released in 2011.
However, this is good news for public transparency and democratic process, giving concerned citizens the right to voice their objections to a relaxing of labelling. We expect to hear an announcement of the consultation process in the next six months.
Subscribe to our Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/notofoodirradiation or visit this site to keep up to date on developments.
All indications we have had, from officials and Ministerial letters, are that our governments intend to end irradiation labelling. In our view, improving and strengthening the existing deficient labelling and signage regimes should also be an option for the review.
Issues for consumers regarding removal of labelling include governmental conflicts of interest in approvals, the risk of misrepresentation of irradiated foods as fresh, testing for irradiation involves detecting changes to the food (proving it is a additive, rather than a benign process), current point-of sale signage is inadequate Health issues include: insufficient testing of safety, and new studies indicate nutrient loss and allergy issues.
Cats and dogs have died in Australia and the USA as a result of irradiated food. Congratulations to Australian pet food manufacturer, Canidae, for being irradiation free. Pet food companies in the US are also now following suit, with increased awareness of the danger to pets from eating irradiated food.
“the FDA said it will begin testing treats to see whether irradiation of the products may have contributed to reports of treat-related problems ranging from diarrhea and vomiting to kidney failure, Fanconi syndrome and death.
In 2009, the Australian government halted irradiation used to sterilize cat food after reports of paralysis and other problems appeared to be linked to the process. Ninety cats were sickened, of which 30 died, according to press reports at the time.” Read more
In Australia, herbs, spices, herbal infusions (teas), nine tropical fruits (mango, paw paw, lychee, longan, mangosteen, rambutan, carambola, breadfruit and custard apple), persimmons, tomatoes and capsicums have so far been approved for irradiation.
There are 16 further approvals in the pipeline, including: zucchinis, honey dew melons, rockmelons, nectarines, strawberries, cherries, apricots, plums, peaches, table grapes, and apples.
In the US, numerous products, including beef, vegetables, oysters and fruit may be irradiated. Free trade agreements make it likely that more approvals will be pursued in Australia.
Research findings by the National Institute of Nutrition (NIN), Hyderabad, on the harmful effects of freshly irradiated wheat fed to mice and men, in the mid-’70s, had indicated that irradiation can cause malignant changes in the blood cells. Its observations were reconfirmed by laboratories in West Germany and the UK. Indignant BARC scientists bitterly contested the NIN findings.
“The reservations about food irradiation all over the world should not be lightly brushed aside,” warned Dr C. Gopalan, former chief of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and president of the Nutrition Foundation of India. Read more
Physicans & Scientists for Global Responsibility: “recommends Food Standards Austria New Zealand (FSANZ) reject Application A1069. The food regulation review process of FSANZ has a legislated mandate to protect public health and safety. In approving this Application, FSANZ would not be meeting this duty of care.
“The safety and nutritional integrity of the proposed irradiated foods is not determined. Irradiation of tomatoes and capsicums could potentially adversely affect the nutritional value and safety of a significant proportion of fresh foods and processed food supplies in New Zealand and Australia as these products are widely used in dried, canned and frozen processed foods.
Read the full submission here:
From Food & Water Watch: A year ago French microbiologist Gilles-Eric Séralini dared to take a critical look at the safety of genetically engineered crops. He found serious problems in the health of rats fed Monsanto’s NK603 corn, and his findings were published in a prestigious academic journal, following the normal peer-review process.
His article shook up the scientific community, for it appeared to break through the industry stranglehold over the scientific discourse related to its biotech products. As I wrote last year, journal articles written about NK603 prior to the Séralini study were funded by Monsanto and made favorable findings – and several were published in a Monsanto-funded journal. This holds true for much of the research that exists on the safety of biotech crops, which is largely performed or funded by industry. This is also true of the research that regulators review when making approval decisions.
Watch this video of workers across the Pacific Rim speaking out against the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement, of which Australia is a negotiating member. The TPP has nothing to do with genuine free trade and everything to do with the interests of the 1% of worldwide corporate power. Read more