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Article in Medical Journal Says Irradiation is Necessary

BOSTON - A report the latest edition of the New England Journal of Medicine concludes that food irradiation is critical to ensuring food safety but the technology is vastly underused.

Author Dr. Donald W. Thayer, writing in the April 29 edition of the prestigious journal, presented a convincing argument that physicians and other healthcare professionals, as health advocates, should also be advocates for the irradiation of foods to prevent the transmission of infection. Thayer said the recent approval of irradiated hamburgers for school lunch programs in the United States has been met with unfounded claims by groups opposed to food irradiation that children are being used as experimental animals.

Commenting on the article, Dr. George Chang, an expert in food safety at the University of California at Berkeley, observed: "There is great fear of irradiation and I think people have great images of science fiction movies, and things like that, and maybe something turning us into mutant ninja turtles or something." However, Chang continued, irradiation is safe, and that the technology can dramatically cut down on deadly pathogens in food.

"The argument whether we really need irradiation or not, that's basically a political question, and I think that's a question in a democracy that's a really healthy to have people talk about and argue about," Change observed.

While some food is irradiated in the United States, such as hamburgers and other red meat, poultry, pork, fruits and vegetables, spices, herbs and seasonings, the process is controversial, with many consumer and scientific groups cautioning against its usage.

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