Wed Dec 4 07:48:05 2002 Pacific Time

 

      Jewel-Osco's Sale of SureBeam's Irradiated Meat Threatens Consumer Health

 

       CHICAGO, Dec. 4 (AScribe Newswire) -- On November 29 Chicago Tonight

TV, meat industry representatives admitted that irradiated meat can taste like "Wet Dog," while supporting Jewel-Osco and SureBeam claims that the meat is safe. "However, these claims don't even pass the laugh test," states Samuel S. Epstein, M.D., Professor emeritus of Environmental Medicine at the University of Illinois School of Public Health, Chicago, and Chairman of the Cancer Prevention Coalition.

 

       SureBeam's claim that its electron-beam irradiation technology destroys food poisoning bacteria just "like thermal pasteurization" of milk is a euphemistic absurdity, and its claim that the technology just "uses ordinary electricity" is deceptive in extreme. The technology, originally designed to zap incoming missiles for President Reagan's "Star Wars Program," shoots meat with a stream of electrons traveling at the speed of light. This results in an irradiation dosage of 450,000 rads, approximately 150 million times greater than that of a chest X-ray.

 

       Not surprisingly, irradiated meat is a very different product than natural meat. Apart from high levels of benzene, new chemicals known as "unique radiolytic products" have been identified in irradiated food since the 1970's.

 

Contrary to FDA assurances, which were rejected in 1981 by its own high level

expert committee and also by independent scientists, these pose risks of cancer, and of genetic damage, as demonstrated in test tube and animal tests, and in children. Furthermore, as admitted by an internal USDA report, cooking

irradiated food depletes its vitamin content, resulting in "empty calorie food."

 

       Irradiation is now being aggressively promoted by the meat industry to

divert attention from grossly unsanitary conditions in factory style feedlots, slaughterhouses and packing plants, and to sterilize meat contaminated with feces. The recklessness of the industry is actively encouraged by recent USDA instructions which discourage federal meat inspectors from preventing fecal contamination of meat: "Remember YOU are accountable for the very serious responsibility of stopping the country's production for the benefit of food

safety."

 

       Warnings on the dangers of irradiated food have been endorsed by some 25 leading national and international scientists and by Public Citizen and other consumer groups. Sanitation, but not irradiation, is the answer to preventing food poisoning.

 

      -30-

 

      Media Contact: Samuel S. Epstein, M.D., Chairman, The Cancer Prevention

Coalition; Professor emeritus, Environmental and Occupational Medicine,

University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health, phone 312-996-2297; epstein@uic.edu

 

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