Ministers responsible for food regulation have asked Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) to review Standard 1.5.3 – Irradiation of Food, specifically to:
- assess the need for the mandatory labelling requirement for all irradiated food to continue, and
- assess whether there is a more effective approach to communicate the safety and benefits of irradiation to consumers.
Our thoughts: The irradiation of fruits and vegetables typically involves their exposure to the energy equivalent of between 1.5 and 10 million x-rays. When used as a fruit fly “treatment”, food irradiation also extends shelf life, sanitises, and alters the nutritional value of the treated foods. The substantial and significant changes made to fruits and vegetables as a result of processing with irradiation cannot be discerned with our ordinary senses. Thus, consumers could no longer rely on taste, smell, texture or appearance to exercise their preference for fresh produce, if irradiation labelling were removed. The removal of labelling from irradiated fruits and vegetables will create a situation where the public will be led to false, misleading and deceptive conclusions as to the nature of these foods, also impacting on their right to make well-informed food buying decisions that potentially impact on their diet and health.
FSANZ has now published its “consultation paper” and is inviting public input through an online questionnaire. Submissions are due by March 29.
To get involved in the campaign to ensure that irradiated food is labelled:
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