National: What’s The (New) Deal With Irradiation?

The news hook on our earlier post came on the heels of a somewhat anachronistic decision by the FDA last week to allow food producers to irradiate spinach and lettuce, infusing them with just enough radioactivity to kill the micro-organisms that cause hazardous infections. From the Associated Press:

The Grocery Manufacturers Association had originally petitioned the FDA seeking to expand use of irradiation to many more types of produce several years ago. But in wake of the 2006 E. coli outbreak from spinach — which killed three people and sickened nearly 200 — plus a list of lettuce recalls, the industry group asked the FDA to rule on the leafy greens first.

The FDA still is considering what other types of produce might be OK to irradiate. Often mentioned as possible are tomatoes and peppers, which have been the focus of investigators trying to trace this summer’s nationwide salmonella outbreak.

That’s interesting. It’s not like the FDA is keeping the decision a secret. Hell, it’s in the AP. But why isn’t last week’s announcement on the FDA’s website? The last mention of irradiation came in June, and last week’s decision apparently didn’t warrant a press release.

Remember when, a few hours ago, we said that just a modicum of forthcoming information could make the difference between a careful populace and a panic-inducing epidemic? Well, when big, faceless government organizations and big, faceless lobbying groups get together to talk about injecting scary technology into people’s food, it helps to put out a bit of information on that plan. Otherwise, you get films like this:

FDA: Irradiating spinach, lettuce OK to kill germs [AP]
Search Results: Irradiation [FDA]

National: What’s The (New) Deal With Irradiation?