Say NO! to Irradiated Cocktail

fruitsaladFood 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.

NOW is the time to write a submission.

DEADLINE FOR SUBMISSIONS: 6pm (Canberra time) 9 October 2014

To inform your submission please read:
1) Brief overview of food irradiation in Australia and New Zealand
2) Sample letter
3) List of each state’s relevant local and national MPs

1). Brief overview of food irradiation in Australia and New Zealand

Food irradiation is used for shelf-life extension and for neutralising, not removing contaminants or pests. Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) is considering approving irradiation for 12 regularly consumed fruits and vegetables: apples, apricots, cherries, nectarines, peaches, plums, honeydew, rockmelon, strawberries, table grapes, zucchini and squash.

With the recent approval of tomatoes and capsicums, this approval would significantly increase the proportion of irradiated produce in the average Australian and New Zealander diet. So far, these foods have been approved: Tomatoes, capsicums, herbs, spices, herbal teas, mangoes, mangosteens, pawpaws, carambolas, breadfruits, custard apples, lychees, longans, rambutans and persimmons.

Irradiation decreases the vitamin and nutritional content of food and disrupts its molecular structure, producing free radicals and potentially harmful chemicals such as benzene, formaldehyde and cyclobutanones.

Irradiation is being promoted as an “alternative” to some post-harvest chemicals that are being phased out. Numerous non-chemical alternatives exist.

Irradiation labelling is currently under threat. FSANZ will be undertaking a review of mandatory irradiation labelling in late 2014. Health Minister Fiona Nash states this is to “assess whether there are better ways to communicate the safety and benefits of irradiated food to consumers.”

Current laws are already allow shops to use a sign close by to irradiated produce, rather than actual stickers or labels and fail to prescribe mandatory wording for the irradiation statement, leaving the messaging up to marketing companies. Neither the word radiation nor irradiation is required.

Labelling is the only way to distinguish irradiated food from non-irradiated food. Labelling must be maintained and improved to ensure the public’s right to choose.

2). Sample Letter

To: Food Standards Australia New Zealand Deadline 6pm Canberra time October 9, 2014
CC: Your relevant state & federal MP (see attached)

SUBMISSION: Reject Application 1092 (A1092) for the irradiation of 12 fruits: Apple, apricot, cherry, honeydew melon, nectarine, peach, plum, rockmelon, strawberry, table grape, zucchini and scallopini (summer squash.)

I oppose the irradiation of apples, apricots, cherries, honeydew melons, nectarines, peaches, plums, rockmelons, strawberries, table grapes, zucchinis and scallopinis (summer squashes). I have concerns about the wholesomeness of irradiated food as well as the environmental and social impacts of irradiating our food. Numerous alternatives to irradiation exist and I do not believe that the irradiation of these fruits for quarantine purposes benefits my family. I am also worried that irradiated food will not be labelled.

Numerous studies have shown the potential health risks posed by irradiated food. The approval of these 12 regularly eaten fruits could significantly increase the amount of irradiated food in our diet.

In 2003, concerns over the safety of irradiated food led the European Union to rule out further irradiation approvals. The Australian Senate followed suit with a call for approvals to be halted until further research has been conducted. Claims that irradiated foods are safe are indefensible as no research on long-term consumption of an irradiated diet have been conducted.

Irradiation has been shown to deplete vitamin C, vitamin A, proteins, essential fatty acids and other nutrients in food and has been linked to health problems such as nutritional deficiencies, immune system disorders, abnormal lymph cells, and genetic damage.

In 2008-9, irradiation was linked to neurological disorders leading to paralysis and in some cases, death, of up to one hundred Australian pet cats. Irradiated cat food is now banned in Australia. The European Food Safety Authority acknowledges that the risk to humans cannot be ruled out.

While irradiation is promoted as beneficial to Australian farmers; each approval also enables irradiated imports from overseas. Irradiation is a tool of large agri-business – and supports mass production systems that diminish the power of local food producers and destroy local markets.

Furthermore, irradiation will not eliminate the use of chemicals and pesticides in crop production; it will be used in conjunction with these and other food processes.

I also have concerns about the impartiality of the approval process as the Qld government is both the applicant for A1092 and a member of the decision-making Ministerial Forum.

Finally, I am not confident that these fruits will be labelled. The government has initiated a “review” of mandatory labelling which will likely lead to the removal of labelling requirements. This will lead to these foods being deceptively marketed as “fresh” though they are processed and remove the consumers right to choose. Irradiated food and their packages must be individually labelled as “treated with radiation” or “irradiated.“ A1092 does not assure me that this will be the case.

For these reasons I call on you to reject A1092 and to rescind all previous irradiation approvals.
I look forward to hearing your response to my concerns.

Thank you,

3. What can you do?

mailWrite! Food regulations must pass through the Ministerial Forum before becoming law.

Each state has at least one STATE MP on the Council. If you let the ministers and decision makers know how you feel about irradiation, it may just help make a decision balance in favour of the consumer rights. We suggest sending your comments to Food Standards Australia New Zealand at:

& to your local member/s as well as federal representatives:

Australia New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation

Australian Government:

Senator the Hon Fiona Nash MP
Assistant Minister for Health Federal
PO Box 6100, Senate Parliament House,
Canberra ACT 2600

Hon Barnaby Joyce, MP
Minister for Agriculture
PO Box 6022, House of Representatives
Parliament House Canberra, ACT 2600

New Zealand:

The Hon Nikki Kaye. MP,Minister for Food Safety
P.O. Box 47-658,Ponsonby
Auckland 1144 New Zealand

Australian State & Territory Reps

The Hon Lawrence Springborg, MP
Minister for Health
PO Box 48, Brisbane QLD 4001

The Hon John McVeigh MP
Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry
PO Box 46, Brisbane QLD 4001

Ms Katrina Hodgkinson, MP
Minister for Primary Industries
PO Box 5341, Sydney NSW 2001

Mrs Jillian Skinner, MP
Minister for Health
PO Box 5341, Sydney NSW 2001

The Hon Robyn Lambley, MLA
Minister for Health
GPO Box 3146 Darwin NT 0801

The Hon David Davis, MLC
Minister for Health
Level 22, 50 Lonsdale St Melbourne VIC 3000

The Hon Peter Walsh, MP
Minister for Agriculture and Food Security
Lvl 16, 8 Nicholson St, East Melbourne VIC 3002

Hon Dr Kim Hames, MLA MBBS, JP
Minister for Health
PO Box 5551 Falcon WA 6210

Hon Ken Baston, MLC
Minister for Agriculture and Food
PO Box 1452, Broome WA 6725

Hon Michael Ferguson, MP, Minister for Health
Level 4, Reserve Bank Building,
111 Macquarie Street, Hobart 7000

Ms Katy Gallagher, MLA
Minister for Health
PO Box 1020, Canberra ACT 2601

Hon Jack Snelling, MP
Minister for Health and Ageing
PO Box 2555 Adelaide SA 5001

Hon Leon Bignell, MP
Minister for Agriculture, Food and Fisheries
PO Box 1671 Adelaide SA 5001

Australian Local Government Association:

Councillor Bill McArthur, Golden Plains Shire
President of the Municipal Association of Victoria
PO Box 111,Bannockburn VIC 3331

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