Essay: Food irradiation – scientists' toy or everyman's joy?

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  • Subject area(s): Environmental studies essays
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  • Food irradiation - scientists' toy or everyman's joy?
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As one could conclude from the title, this article journal focuses on the heated debate regarding food irradiation. This article is biased towards supporting the process of irradiation, rather than the opposition associated in several people’s mind with radioactivity. Food security has always been a problem for the future of this planet, will we be able to feed ourselves with the ever-increasing population along with the environment problems that accompany it? Natural disasters such as droughts could also play a huge role of destruction through land degradation and soil erosion, making it harder to grow food on what once was arable land. The article states two mighty rivers, the Ganges and Brahmaputra serve as a grim warning as they flush billions of fertile topsoil. According to Washington-based Worldwatch Institute, “agricultural lands are degrading on every continent.” In addition to this, there is the disappointing fact that some food doesn’t even get to consumers due to contamination and/or spoilage. This brings light to the true scale of foodborne illness and diseases. Lucky for us, food irradiation serves as a splendid solution. It has numerous benefits, with the main one being “rendering salmonella-contained poultry harmless.” It can also rid food of spoilage organisms such as yeast and moulds, delay the ripening of fruits keeping them at their peak for weeks, destroy insects and pests and prolong shelf-life of vegetables and fruits.

Though the article is old, it is still reliable as it was written by Mr. Valery Abramov, a public information officer with World Health Organization’s Division of Public Information and Relations. The source is also peer reviewed and edited. The World Health Organization’s primary role is to build a healthier future by combating infectious diseases, food borne included. The writer informs and educates us on the debate surrounding this issue which affects what we eat, in other words our overall health.

This source is quite useful to me because it outlines the benefits of food irradiation. This is key information which is necessary in order for me to discuss why I support this process and prove its authenticity. The article is biased, leaning towards food irradiation being everyman’s joy. It allows us to become aware of the advantages of this process and leaves it up to us to decide what we will choose to do. This will be my most used source as it proves throughout the journal that the issue of safety is not an issue, at least for the scientific community.

Durocher, J. F. (1985, July 1). The food irradiation controversy. Restaurant Business, 84, 158+. Retrieved from GPS&xid=933ad3b9

This article focuses on addressing the main issue with food irradiation, it’s name. The word radiation is considered as one the scariest words in our vocabulary, mainly because we do not purely understand it; and people fear what they do not understand. Research has been done into the process of food irradiation for decades and studies show it falls into 3 categories: high dose, medium dose, and low dose. Each dose entails a different measure of radiation absorbed and each have different purposes. These “doses” come from gamma radiation emitted by radioactive isotopes, however, they do not leave the exposed product with residual radiation. The process of food irradiation described here is completely safe. In addition to this, after the process is complete, no strange odors or flavours and produced, rather the color and texture of the food improves. Majority of the research being done has centered around poultry products. Steaks have been being irradiates for as many as six years and holds up with excellent results. In fact, irradiated pork does not require for it to be refrigerated. It has also proven itself quite effective in the potato and onion industry with regard to limiting growth of mold, and altercations in the ripening process. Irradiation as proved to be a superior preservation technique to current methods. One question the public is facing is whether to consider food irradiation as an additive rather than process or treatment. Sometime in the future, after consumers have been educated with the safety of this process, the numerous advantages will become more obvious to the public.

This article, quite old as well, is still credible seeing it was verified by CSP magazine and its award winning editorial team, ranked number 1 in market share and readership. The source is also peer reviewed and edited. This article is split up into segments, one part being the irradiation process. This is purely facts and no opinion as it is simply stating the procedure. The article then goes on to discuss a more biased piece on why we should irradiate our food. It proves to be accurate as the facts stated is consistent with my previous sources.

I would consider this as a very competent source as it focused on the background and process of irradiation. Knowing the educational segment and technicalities within this process is vital when debating a topic. This specific journal bettered my understanding of how food irradiation actually works as it more fact based, rather than point of view. The information is presented to me in a way that I am able to make a decision on food irradiation for myself. It also made a very strong point discussing why consumers are so afraid of food irradiation which I feel would be an excellent touch to my essay.

Robertshaw, N., & Schwartz, L. (1985, June 24). FDA will approve food irradiation. Supermarket News, 35, 2+. Retrieved from &sid=GPS&xid=101be224

This article is actual approval of food irradiation from the food industry, specifically the Food and Drug Administration. A study was done on mice which were fed a diet of chicken treated with low dose irradiation vs. mice with a diet of regular chicken. Despite the studies showing the mice that ate the irradiated chicken had a higher amount of tumors and a reduced life span, the FDA has decided to not block approval of irradiation for use on produce. One congressman however stated that marketing irradiated food would be turning consumers into guinea pigs in a dangerous lab experiment. Other than those finds from the experiment, results showed a definitive conclusion that the irradiated food was pure and free of toxicity. People are however arguing that there is not adequate information for the basis of this approval. The proposed regulation allows certain doses for specific foods, such as 100 kilorads to extend shelf life and kill insects in produce. This level is already in use in several countries around the world. The food industry sees irradiation as one of the safer methods and alternatives as it does not leave a chemical residue in the food. The bill being proposed also states that irradiated food would be labelled to inform consumers of what they are purchasing and eating. Due to unanswered questions and speculations from the public, there is a great amount of controversy around this process, the FDA is determined to prove to the public that it is safe.

Despite being written in 1985, this topic is still a growing concern and this information is more important than ever. I see it is a quite reliable because it was approved by the Food and Drug Administration and written by Penton Media company on the bill that was being passed. The FDA is widely recognized as an association responsible for promoting public health through the supervision and control of food safety. Their name standing along shows credibility. Even looking purely on the information in the article, it is not opinionated. It focuses on the experiment, the results and the public debate of food irradiation. The source is also peer reviewed and edited.

This source is suitable for my essay because it provides an actual scientific basis and app
roval by the food industry of this process. An experiment was done and despite the few wary results, irradiating food is still being approved. Research being done is being shared with the public, rather than being hidden away therefore gaining my trust. I am able to draw my own conclusions. This source gives scientific evidence for me to include in my essay to draw points from.

Graham, K. (1993, July). Food irradiation: does it have a place in today’s food industry? Frozen Food Digest, 8(4), 10+. Retrieved from unionville&sid=GPS&xid=35c81010

This journal article educates me on the knowledge of the public opposition regarding food irradiation. Food irradiation is a food preservation method that exposes food to high energy radiation from material such as cobalt-60 or cesium-137. Public resistance to food irradiation has limited test marketing and sale of these foods. The author of this article, Karen Graham, decided to look into this and found herself agreeing with the opposition. Despite the approval from the Food and Drug Association and the World Health Organization, she weighed the benefits and concerns and decided food irradiation is overrated and is far outweighed by not just the environmental risks but also the financial cost. Graham states, with coming budget cuts in the American and Canadian government due to military spending, food irradiation will not survive due to its enormous operating costs. These several costs she discusses wild include the construction of the nuclear facility, continual purchases of equipment and material, clean up and additional technicality costs. She especially believes the promotion of this process from first nations to developing countries is despicable. In addition to this, she believes scientists must note the fine line between killing bacteria in the food, and killing the food itself. She does not agree with the idea that this process could overcome contamination caused by poor food handling, however cannot actually prove that irradiating food is unsafe.

This source is credible because Karen Graham, the writer, is Public Health Nutrionist in Canada, Registered Dietician and food and nutrition researcher. She is also the author of the book, “Food Irradiation: A Canadian Folly” and has sold over a quarter million copies from her books in total. The author is affiliated with several health research centers, making her experienced enough to discuss this topic. Though her article is mainly opinion, she does state facts to back up what she is saying from her own personal research. This source is also peer edited and reviewed.

Due to the fact that I will be supporting rather than opposing food irradiation, these negative effects will not be discussed in detail in my essay. However, I still view this source as quite helpful because I believe it is important for me to know all point of views on this topic before trying to persuade people to see it in my opinion. In order to defeat your enemy, one must know their enemy. By knowing the weak points of food irradiation, I can reverse the effect and strengthen my essay.

Blumenthal, D. (1990, November). Food irradiation; toxic to bacteria, safe for humans. FDA Consumer, 24(9), 11+. Retrieved from &sid=GPS&xid=83842110

This article goes in depth and detail for a majority of topics. Some of the topics being consumer uncertainty around the word irradiation itself, along with the process, “proving the absence of a ghost” by trying to find risk with consuming irradiated food, and the future of food irradiation. Similar to a previous source, research shows most of the disrepute surrounding the process comes from the word itself. To several people, the word irradiation means danger as it associated with bombs, explosions and nuclear reactions. The idea of linking this to what we consume scares people. The article clearly states however, that irradiation does not make food radioactive and the only danger there is the bacteria that is contaminating the food. Regarding consumer uncertainty, a solution, also proposed by the FDA, is package labelling as consumers should know what they are buying. Another concern from consumers is that the process may cause new substances to form not known to be present in the non irradiated food. George Pauli, an FDA food irradiation expert quickly put these concerns to rest as he stated if there were to be small changes they would be called “thermolytic products” and be completely harmless. The team of scientists discussed in the article related finding harmful effects of food irradiation to proving the absence of a ghost– not possible. The Bureau of Foods Irradiated Food Committee (BFIFC) then came in to confirm the results of this team. According to a study demonstrated by the WHO, there has been a vast increase in foodborne diseases such as Listeria. If food irradiation is implemented in the future, these disease causing organisms could be reduced. It would be an extremely handy weapon in our arsenal against FBIs.

This article is verified by not just the World Health Organization, but also the Bureau of Foods Irradiated Food Committee. Results from experiments were cleared by not one, but two teams of scientists and in addition to this, was written by Dale Blumenthal, a food and drug regulation officer. It contains information on how to become and maintain a healthy lifestyle with feedback from consumers as well. It includes facts and statistics, so all of these factors combined make it a credible source to me.

This source was quite helpful to me as it summarized most of the main points surrounding the issue of food irradiation. It has a mixture of facts and opinion and presents the information quite clearly. Being my last source, most of the information simply added to my previous knowledge on the topic so using this, I will definitely be able to support my perspective of supporting irradiated food.

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