The moratorium on food irradiation in Aus & NZ was lifted in 1999. Since that time, the community has been in constant campaign mode: trying (unsuccessfully) to stop a nuclear irradiation facility at Narangba/Deception Bay- then trying (also generally unsuccessfully) to stop food irradiation approvals (this is ongoing!) and more recently- trying to stop the push to remove labelling requirements.
The industry knows that people don’t really want to eat irradiated food- and sees labelling as an impediment to irradiated food’s marketability. 6 years on since the government called for a “review” of mandatory labelling, it has announced that no further action will be taken:
Irradiated Food will remain LABELLED!
The Report Summary explains that the majority of submissions were against removal of labelling:
Comments from some stakeholders, in particular consumers and consumer advocacy groups, indicated there were heightened concerns about the use of irradiation technology and a lack of understanding and acceptance of the safety and benefits of food irradiation. A common theme of consumer submissions was that the long term safety and health benefits from consuming irradiated food was unknown and there is no unequivocal evidence of its safety in relation to human health.
The majority of submitters did not support the removal of the mandatory irradiation labelling requirement. A number of these submitters were consumers, who were concerned about provision of information to enable an informed choice. Additionally, a number of submitters suggested strengthening the labelling requirement, for example prescribing the actual wording of the statement to be used or providing more information on the label about the irradiation process, its safety and the risks (if any) and benefits.
This is a not only a win for the public today but will help thwart the push to remove labelling of other unpopular or unfamiliar technological manipulations of our food.
Irradiated food labelling in Aus & NZ does need to be reviewed, actually- it needs to be made more stringent and comprehensive. Labelling should require the words “irradiated” or “irradiation” or “radiation” and signs should not be allowed as a substitute for individual labels.
Food labelling should be designed to protect, inform and benefit the consuming public- not the food industry or trade agreements.
There’s work to do, and we need your help to do it, but…
For now, we (that’s all of us) have stemmed the tide!