[ RadSafe ] The Burger That Shattered Her Life

Cary Renquist cary.renquist at ezag.com
Tue Oct 6 11:56:50 CDT 2009

A relatively balanced presentation for an environmentalist website (skeptical towards 
irradiation, but not outright anti).
However, the comments on the piece appear to be sliding toward the usual hysteria.
e.g. ... Do we want to add the powerful mutational tool of irradiation to the mix?...


Thoughts on irradiated food

Dear Lou,

Is food irradiation good enough that we could theoretically go back to having rare hamburgers, soft-boiled eggs and unpasteurized milk? I miss all of those!


Dear Carla,

Let's bond: I miss the hollandaise sauce at breakfast buffets, homemade mayonnaise, and eggnog made from scratch. Oh, and I miss raw chocolate chip cookie dough like the deserts miss the rain. 

The short answer to your question is no. If you're going to gamble, head for Vegas (or Reno-it's nice there, too). No food preservation method is good enough for you to take a completely risk-free bite of any food, especially when it comes to undercooked meat or egg products. Although irradiation can vastly reduce pathogens, safe handling and cooking rules must be heeded.

The longer and perhaps more interesting answer is this: Even if irradiation (ionizing radiation) were effective enough to completely sterilize our food, we might want look before we leap when it comes to this technology.

As is my style, I'll give you some pros and cons and let you decide.

-----Original Message-----
From: radsafe-bounces at radlab.nl [mailto:radsafe-bounces at radlab.nl] On Behalf Of ROY HERREN
Sent: Saturday, 03 October 2009 23:05
To: radsafe at radlab.nl
Subject: [ RadSafe ] The Burger That Shattered Her Life

Radsafe Community,

    I just finished reading the following article, see 


and I watched it's associated video.  I am completely mystified as to why raw hamburger products aren't irradiated before leaving their final processing plant.  Is there some rational reason why it's preferable to risk millions of peoples lives with "potential" exposure to the strain of E-coli O157:H7 strain then it is to irradiate the food?  If this question  were subjected to a Risk Vs. Benefit analysis it would seem to be a no-brainer as to the answer to the question.  So, why are people still being poisoned and dying from E-coli food outbreaks?  Is this an issue of the "Court of Public Opinion", in other words are average people afraid of the effects of food irradiation?  In the article they mention that some of the hamburger ingredients are treated with ammonia.  Is the public aware that some of their
 hamburger ingredients are being treated with ammonia, and if so are the effects of food products being treated with ammonia somehow acceptable, but irradiation is abhorrent?  I don't think that the public is aware of the treatment of their food with ammonia and I don't think the public really appreciates the risk of food borne illness, and I especially don't think that the public really knows the under utilized benefits of food irradiation.  Based on this article is would seem that ignorance isn't bliss... 

    I've heard some of the arguments before, such as "the effects haven't been adequately studied".  Did anyone do a scientific study of the effects of cooking food before the first person in long ago antiquity cooked a meal on an open fire or boiled a pot of food?  No!  Humanity's descendants inherited various cooking processes long before the initiation of the scientific method, and that is a good thing given the world of bacteria and fungus we are faced with on a daily basis.  I'm not saying that the effects of irradiation shouldn't be studied, which they have been, and I'm not saying that I want to expose people to some new unknown risk.  What I'm saying is that if the risk from irradiation is less than the risk of bacteria exposure then we should adopt wide spread use of food irradiation (as opposed to the current system of "stealth" irradiation of select foods.
 Roy Herren 

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