miércoles, 6 de julio de 2011

German E. coli Crisis Revives Irradiation Debate

The E. coli crisis currently sickening more than 3,800 and attributed to German-grown sprouts illustrates the need to keep produce safe, and the way to do this is through irradiation.

The E. coli crisis gives new life to an old debate over the pros and cons of irradiation. Leading the anti-irradiation movement is the organic industry; they say the process changes the quality of food, killing nutrients along with the bacteria. However the FDA points that irradiated food is safe and wholesome.

Some articles say that E. coli outbreak is evidence that organic foods are not always better, nor safe for consumption. Later the organic industry says that all food, whether conventionally or organically produced, is susceptible to E. coli. The FDA acknowledges there is no evidence to indicate that organic products are more likely to be contaminated by E. coli. But an associate commissioner of FDA, Acheson, said "there is a misperception that organic equals safer, and is not. It's dangerous, because it creates a false sense of security”.

Another concern raised by irradiation is that the method will eventually be seen as a panacea for bacteria on food, and companies will use it as an excuse to ease up on other food safety interventions. Acheson says “this would be a grave mistake. The amount of irradiation needed to completely eliminate all organisms of food would also be the amount that ruins. He also adds "using irradiation in moderation can be an extremely effective preventative tool, and is adding one more level of safety to the product. It's not a catch-all".

In USA irradiation is only approve for use on meat, poultry and spinach. But irradiation almost is not used in the USA; in 2004 only 5 % of meat was being irradiated. Even so, over the years irradiation is gaining consideration, mostly when foodborne outbreaks occurred.

The German E. coli outbreak seems to have unearthed buried enthusiasm for the procedure. However, whether this will translate into any food safety changes in the United States remains to be seen.

Fuente: http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2011/06/german-e-coli-crisis-refuels-irradiation-debate/

Aporte: Maria Josefa Henríquez

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