As more irradiated foods begin to appear in U.S. supermarkets, consumers will soon see the radura label on many products. To help consumers better understand if food products are irradiated, read the National Consumers League’s new brochure, "Food Irradiation ... What You Need to Know."

"Irradiation is not a panacea," says Linda Golodner, NCL president. "It’s just one tool in the food safety arsenal.” For example, she explains irradiation can make food safer when there are food safety problems that can’t be solved with proper sanitation and food processing practices. In addition, irradiation reduces or eliminates harmful bacteria such as E. coli 0157:H7, Salmonella, Campylobacter, and Listeria.

The Food and Drug Administration approves each new use of irradiation to ensure food is safe and nutritionally adequate. So far, FDA has approved irradiation of raw meat, raw poultry, spices, fresh shell eggs and seeds for sprouting. FDA is expected to approve pending petitions allowing irradiation of raw shellfish and certain ready-to-eat products, such as luncheon meats.

"Irradiation is not a panacea. It's just one tool in the food safety arsenal," adds Golodner.

More information about food irradiation and an electronic version of the brochure are available online at www.nclnet.org/foodsafety. Consumers can order a hard copy by sending $1 to NCL, 1701 K Street NW, Suite 1200, Washington, DC 20006.