Should You Be Afraid of Your Seasonings?
Pasteurization is nothing new. Thanks to the pasteurization process of heating food up prior to bottling it up for sale, the incidence of food spoilage and foodborne illnesses have dropped significantly. However, can the claim that the irradiation of foods produces the same, harmless result as simply heating liquid foods to 120 degrees Fahrenheit? Is not the irradiation process limited to processed and packaged foods?
Shockingly, the answer is “no” to both questions. In the eyes of the RAC (Raw Agricultural Commodities) guidelines, processed foods are deemed to be safe without irradiation due to the processing involved. Therefore, irradiation is limited to food that are raw and relatively unprocessed, such as dehydrated spices.
Since the Food Safety Modernization Act came into law in 2010, the FDA has proposed two new rules regarding its implementation. And, not surprisingly, special interest groups are exempt from the new law; Chemical Companies, Radiology, and the Meat industry are all exempted. In the name of food safety, of course.
1. The RAC comes into play on the first rule. The focus is raw foods, because unhealthy processed foods are not considered to be at risk for contamination. As long as the foods are sterile, the FDA doesn’t care what their nutritional value is or if the products are safe in other ways. So, producers, in hopes of simply avoiding expensive and burdensome food safety regulations and procedures, will simply pass along their foods, irradiated with thermonuclear waste. And the FDA encourages this!
2. The Current Good Manufacturing Practices (CGMP) comes into play with the second rule. The FDA amends the law by giving a provisional hazards analysis and risk-based protection requirement guideline. This means that risk firms hire ex-FDA employees to advise them of loopholes and requirements and create a ton of paperwork with the hopes of passing that paperwork past the already overburdened FDA.
Why Should We Be Concerned?
Animals who have been fed irradiated foods have shown a wide range of health issues, including cancer, chromosomal abnormalities, premature death, toxicity issues, and spontaneous immediate death. We are not talking here about lab-animals, we are talking about pets and feed animals intended for human consumption. If we remember back over the past 3 years to the food recalls, especially those on pet-foods, some of the contaminated foods were from companies who irradiated pet-foods prior to shipment.
The FDA no longer considers meats, spices, or pet foods to be a raw agricultural commodity. So, they are exempt under the new food rules provision of this law. No longer do farms, shipping companies, processing plants, or any of the other five to ten middlemen on the way from farm to mouth have to account for their sanitation practices. It doesn’t matter what waste products are used in growing the foods, either. The FDA simply allows the foods to be irradiated, to presumably kill off any possible illnesses, without regard for what final effects the radiation has on the final product or the consumers.
While irradiation, the the application of nuclear energy plant waste to food products, may address contamination as a result of unsanitary food processing practices, the FDA does not address the bigger issues. Not only does irradiation forever alter the flavor, texture, odor, and nutritional value, but it also does not address other contamination issues. It focuses completely on biological contamination and allows food products to slip through that may have been contaminated with pesticides, cleaning chemicals, herbicides, and other decontamination chemicals not meant for human consumption.
The FDA reasons that its current regulatory framework to monitor these contaminants is sufficient, and says “illnesses attributable to chemical hazards are rare.” Illnesses from pesticides, cleaning compounds, and other chemical contaminants are rare? Well, that’s the FDA’s worldview, because if they acknowledged the problem they might have to do something about it.– Alliance for Natural Health
Which Spices Do I Avoid?
This is a tough one, since not all foods containing irradiated ingredients have to list them. For the most part, avoid foods from Mexico, Brazil, and South America in general. Further, look for the Radura Symbol, when purchasing foods at the store, and for ingredients within food products which are listed as irradiated. Usually these are found in premixed products, specifically those containing meats such as sausage products and ground meats especially. However, spice mixes can get past the requirement for listing their ingredients with the term “irradiated” and the Radura symbol by simply stating it has natural flavors or natural preservatives.
When dining out, you cannot be sure whether you are safe from irradiated foods or spices, as restaurants often cut corners and buy from the cheapest supplier. Since spice suppliers and producers are cutting cost and avoiding very costly food regulation inspections and certifications, most restaurants are opting for the companies who cut their costs.
Where Do I Source My Spices?
While it may be a bit more expensive, it may be worth your while to purchase your spices from companies advertising non-irradiated spices and seasonings. Better yet, simply grow your own. Purchase a dehydrator and designate a portion of your yard to growing seasonings. These include herbs like black-pepper trees, rosemary, basil, oregano, thyme, laurel trees, a variety of peppers, cumin, cloves, capers, dill, parsley, cilantro, garlic, and onions. And yes, even raw, fresh herbs are not exempt from irradiation treatments. Nor are they necessary labeled with the Radura.
The only herb or spice you cannot grow happens to be salt, which would be better purchased from a non-sea sources and from a company who guarantees zero irradiation. Due to the Fukushima nuclear radiation spill, it is probably wise to avoid any sea-sourced salts or those whose companies manufacturing plants are in the radiation contamination zone. Salt can be made at home, but the result is soda-ash which can be contaminated if not done properly. While it may seem ridiculous to think that salt should be the one product free from irradiation, we cannot guarantee that salt manufacturing plants are not using irradiation to bypass food sanitation laws. Its better to be safe than sorry.
Certainly the Minute Amount of Radiation in Spices is Nothing to Worry About, Right?
When is the last time you went to have an x-ray? What were the standard questions asked? Generally, they ask you if you have any number of health complications, including cancer and even pregnancy. Why? Because the very low dose of radiation can be harmful and even fatal to the unborn child or terminally ill. If this is enough to scare you away from receiving x-rays at the dentist or emergency room, then consider the amount of radiation exposure compared to the amount of exposure the food receives.
Sayer Ji, found of GreenMedInfo.com, states:
“The FDA presently supports and actively promotes the use of Cobalt-60, culled from Nuclear Reactors as a form of “electronic pasteurization” on all domestically produced conventional food.
The use of euphemisms like “food additive” and “pasteurization” to describe the process of blasting food with high levels of gamma-radiation cannot obviate the fact that the very same death-rays generated by thermonuclear warfare to destroy life are now being applied to food to “make it safer” …
This is not a hypochondriac’s rantings, as we aren’t talking here about small amounts of radiation. The level of gamma-radiation used starts at 1KiloGray (equivalent to 16,700,000 chest x-rays or 333 times a human lethal dose) and goes all the way up to 30KiloGray (500,000,000 chest x-rays or 10,000 times a human lethal dose).”
Anyone who tries to tell you that the irradiated foods contain no traces of radiation is either highly uneducated or is lying to your face. If you want further information, please read the article: Never Buy Meat, Potatoes or Herbs With This Label on It from the Mercola Website, which goes into great detail on the harmful chemicals found exclusively in irradiated foods and their detrimental effects on cats and consumers.