Expert Testimony on Health Hazards of Irradiated Foods
Irradiation works by splitting chemical bonds in molecules with high energy beams to form ions and free radicals. When sufficient critical bonds are split in organisms contaminating a food, the organism is killed. Comparable bonds are split in the food. Ions are stable; free radicals contain an unpaired electron and are inherently unstable and therefore reactive. How long free radicals remain in food treated with a given dose of radiation or the reaction products formed in a given food cannot be calculated but must be tested experimentally for each food. Different doses of radiation will produce different amounts and kinds of products.
The kinds of bonds split in a given molecule are governed by statistical considerations. Thus, while most molecules of a given fatty acid, for example, may be split in a certain manner, other molecules of the same fatty acid will be split differently. A free radical can either combine with another free radical to form a stable compound, or it can initiate a [chemical] chain reaction by reacting with a stable molecule to form another free radical, et cetera, until the chain is terminated by the reaction of two free radicals to form a stable compound. These reactions continue long after the irradiation procedure.
I am bringing this up to give you a rationale for the vast number of new molecules that can be formed from irradiation of a single molecular species, to say nothing of a complicated mixture as a food. Furthermore the final number and types of new molecules formed will depend on the other molecules present in the sample. Thus, free radicals originating from fats could form new compounds with proteins, nucleic acids [DNA] , etc.
These considerations lead to the following conclusions:
1. A large number of new molecules is formed. Therefore, irradiation is not a process but a means of adding new molecules to food.
2. Theory cannot predict the nature or number or quantity of the new compounds, which will vary with the kind of food, the season, and the location in which it is harvested.
3. Because of the above, extrapolation of the effects of irradiation at one dose to higher doses will not be valid for all molecules, notwithstanding that in several instances, the formation of volatile hydrocarbons from fats has been shown to be related to the dose of radiation in a linear fashion.
I am linking this here because Canada is a forerunner and heavy user of food irraditaion in many agricultural processes. Everything from fruit, vegetables and meat is often irradiated and no clear indication is given when one is purchashing these items.
You can tell irradiated fruit, vegetables and grain products by the fact that they will NOT spoil or rot the way unradiated food will. For instance, have any of you bought berries which never grew fur? Well, they were likely irradiated. Fungii, moulds and yes even fruit flies will not go near irradiated produce.
Something to keep in mind.
Labelling would a great idea, wouldn't it? Well here's the symbol to look for:
Here's a few more links for those interested:
Concern for Public Health: Food Irradiation
What's wrong with food irradiation?
Health Canada's food irradiation proposal sets off debate
Stop Food Irradiation Project: Organic Consumers Association