FDA permits radiation of spinach and lettuce

Washington, D.C. (JusticeNewsFlash.com – News Report) – According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 70,000 U.S. residents fall ill annually because of the bacteria group commonly known as Escherichia coli 0157. Victims who contract the bacteria experience severe stomach cramps, diarrhea and vomiting. Across 26 states, two elderly women and a 2-year-old child died, along with more than 200 people – fell ill, due to a late 2006 E. coli outbreak, which was later, traced to packaged spinach grown on a Central California farm.

In response, the FDA has approved for the technique of ionizing radiation to be used on spinach and lettuce. According to the FDA, this is already used on foods such as spices, dried vegetables and ground beef. It has been found that low doses of radiation can eliminate Escherichia coli bacteria, salmonella, shigella and listeria. According to an article in the Mercury News, the National Food Processors Association requested approval for use of radiation in 1999 after a 1997 study by the trade association found that irradiating fresh-cut, commercially prepared lettuce slashed the microbial population from 220,000 “colony forming units” per gram to barely 200 per gram. The colony-forming unit per gram, or CFU/g, is the standard measurement for microbial contamination. Yet some are concerned that radiation may kill certain necessary vitamins, including thiamin, vitamin E and vitamin A. But the FDA stated, “Irradiation will not have an adverse effect on the nutritional makeup of spinach and iceberg lettuce.” It will be a great benefit, for studies have shown that the surfaces of the leaves of spinach and lettuce are perfect habitats for bacteria to form if not treated.

The technique is different, and therefore can be scary to some who do not understand the process, but anything that prevents the human population from contracting life-threatening illnesses is worth a try.

About the Author Legal Reporter

Jana Simard is a contributing writer for Justice News Flash with degrees in Political Science and Spanish. Born in Canada, but raised in sunny south Florida, Jana had an early passion for writing. During her high school and college years she interned at a Florida Congressman's office as well as a Rhode Island Governor and Senator's office. While in her last two years of college, Jana spent six months in Salamanca, Spain where she truly discovered her passion for writing and had her articles published in her school's newspaper. Her experience in two Providence high profile law firms has equipped her with the ability to write for Justice News Flash as a Legal Reporter.