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Pundit’s Mailbag — Arguing For Irradiation

Jim Prevor’s Perishable Pundit, January 11, 2007

In response to our piece Irradiation Will Prevent Future Outbreaks, we received a letter:

In the midst of the current spinach crisis it is obvious that irradiation is a needed choice for food safety. Why aren’t all these people that say they are interested in the health of consumers, FDA, WGA, signers of the Buyer-led Food Safety Initiative, CDC, Senator Florez of California, and others, demanding irradiation?

We all know that everything we do in the field and processing shed that the government or buyers demand will not stop the next E. coli outbreak. The current system, and for that matter what I have heard regarding a future system, are not designed to be fail safe. Why not get behind science, instead of politics.

— Mark Beeler
Watsonville Produce

Mark’s letter is tapping into a growing sense in the industry that nothing that is done at the grower level will provide the level of certainty of safety that government and the public demand.

So the consensus among growers is forming that we need a kill step.

Some think it can be found in the processing plant as Karl Kolb Ph.D., President and CEO, The High Sierra Group and the American Food Safety Institute, International commented in our piece Pundit’s Mailbag — Farmers Are Not The Cause Of Food Safety Problems.

But many are saying that even the efforts of processors to wash and test product are not definitive enough.

The thought is that we need a guaranteed kill step. And the only one available is irradiation.

When you have people like Tom Russell, President of Dynasty Farms / Pacific International Marketing, a man who has an important organic business, saying that we need a “Right to Irradiate” law, you know the tides have turned. If you missed Tom’s letter, read it here.

Growers are increasingly feeling that they are being asked to do the impossible.

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