When we think of food from nature, we generally don’t consider it to be harmful. Yet, there are some foods that can cause disease. To remove germs that cause disease, food is treated with ionizing radiation. The radiation process, which is known as food irradiation, kills any germs on the food that could eventually lead to disease.
This radiation technology is not new, however. NASA has used radiation to keep foods from collecting germs while in space. It wasn’t until 1992 that the technology was introduced to the public, however.
In the more recent years, some people believe that using this type of radiation on food could cause radiation poisoning. However, scientists claim that it doesn’t.
Instead, scientists say that irradiating foods can eliminate many diseases without changing the food in anyway and it’s safe to consume. However, plants from Mother Nature aren’t the only reason scientists apply radiation to food. The animals that we consume are another. Because raw meat can contain deadly bacteria such as E. coli, and salmonella, scientists hope that the radiation will eliminate the deadly bacteria.
Unfortunately, the process doesn’t destroy all of the bacteria and not just any food can be irradiated. Raw shellfish and eggs are generally not good candidates for the radiation process since it can reduce the quality of the food. Alfalfa seeds are another food that can’t be radiated due to the risk of salmonella poisoning.
Aside from germ removal, scientists have also learned that an irradiated food has a longer shelf life. This makes the food easier to ship from farm to stores to home. And believe it or not, the technology isn’t just used in food. The very same radiation process is also used to eliminate fatal illnesses, sterilize medical products, eliminate bacteria in cosmetics and it’s used in non-stick cookware. (The very same type of cookware that we’ve been warned not to use.)
Still, many people aren’t really concerned when it comes to buying foods that involve the use of this type of radiation. They believe that if there is a label stating that the product has been treated with radiation and that is approved by the FDA, it’s safe.
For the most part, using radiation to kill the germs that can cause bacteria in food is safe. But, if you’re like the few who would rather not take the risk, it’s certainly understandable.
Unfortunately there really is no way of knowing if a food has been processed with radiation. While labels must be used for a majority of these radiated products, if a food contains very little radiation, that product doesn’t require a label.
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