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There is a new practice being done to our seafood to keep germs and pathogens at bay that has potential to be more harmful than beneficial. What is done to our food, affects our guts. Learn more about this new ugly business of irradiated food and why I want you to avoid the new label.

You may be seeing a new logo on packaged shrimp and other shellfish in your supermarket. This logo is being used currently on other food products on grocery shelves.

In the first week of April 2014, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the radiation of crustaceans—shrimp, crab and lobster—to control pathogens and extend shelf life.

Why is this?

It is used to show that a food product has been treated with gamma radiation.  The FDA is promising it will reduce the bacteria and pathogens on it and make us all safer.

We really don’t know everything that happens to food when it’s irradiated.

The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) describes the logo as follows: “The petals represent the food, the central circle is the radiation source, and the broken circle illustrates the gamma rays from the energy source.”

“…the rays from the energy source” is gamma rays generated by radioactive cobalt. At least I suppose it looks better than this sign:

Here are some things we know about irradiation:

  • Irradiation can destroy up to 80 percent of certain essential vitamins, such as C, E, K, and B
  • Vitamin A has been identified as one of the most radiation sensitive of the fat-soluble vitamins
  • Irradiated food forms chemical substances called “radiolytic products”
  • Some of these “radiolytic products” are brand new chemicals. Not only have they not been tested, they haven’t even been named yet!
  • Irradiated food causes brain damage
  • More toxic and fatal effects of irradiated foods (i.e Fatal internal bleeding in rats, Fetal and embryo deaths in mice, Cancer, Chromosomal damage…)
  • And then there’s the danger to the public and the environment.

Somehow gamma rays just don’t sound very appetizing…. or safe.  In fact, there have been accidents around the country involving factories that radiate food. In some cases, workers were seriously injured and in others, contamination was leaked out into the neighboring communities.

Your BareFood Angel’s closing words: 

It is important to understand that scientific research on its effects is usually two to three decades behind a current innovation.  What I mean by that is that there is an important element at play here. It usually will take two to three decades for reputable science to gather and report the data and show the negative results of an event or invention. This is assuming that funding is there to support the research. That data then has to be interpreted in layman’s terms, distributed, and assimilated to us through different means, which requires additional funding and support. Let’s not forget the pressure from big businesses that will hurt the most from the data.

Case in point: is EDF’s own website states “While the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) is charged with monitoring the nation’s commercial seafood supply, its recommendations are based on 30-year-old science and balances consumer health risks against economic losses to the fishing industry.”

Would You Like To Know How To Avoid Irradiated Food?

Avoid all foods that contain the above labels.

As far as crustaceans, ask the Seafood counter manager at your grocery store to start rating based on irradiation:

Currently, there is no non-irradiated food label to look at when shopping the from your grocer’s seafood case. I have been asking the global seafood division of Whole Foods to look into setting new standards and guides in purchasing crustaceans so we consumers can make informed choices and decisions. This process is going to take some time. No organization that I know of has a rating system for irradiated fish.

Unfortunately, until a rating system is set up, we as consumers have to ask our fishermen and our grocer if the crustacean seafood that they sell is free of irradiation. I personally ask for verification from someone in management or higher ranks. Don’t be afraid of offending anyone. You are in charge of your and your family’s health and you have every right to know what you are consuming. When enough people care and ask, change will be inevitable.

Eating fish can be a smart choice. It’s a lean protein with great health benefits. But sometimes fish can be bad for you, and sometimes it’s bad for the environment.

What YOU can do in the mean time:

McKinley Crossland who assists Global Quality Control Department at WholeFoods informed Public Relations department about this issue. You can make a difference by contacting WholeFoods Public Relations office at Customer.questions@wholefoods.com.

The more conscious consumers contact them to request for a proper rating system to allow customers to see how the seafood is processed, the more the company will be moved to create transparency. The more transparent the labeling, the quicker and deeper awareness starts to spread. The more aware consumers become, the more likely it will be that they’ll choose a less refined/processed food. As the consumers choose consciously, it will automatically shift the market because the producers will be forced to produce quality food based on demand.

You can get updates about this rating system more quickly.

Until then, I will only purchase from a provider who knows for sure that their supplier is not irradiating their catch. This is a chance for WholeFoods to be the hero in consumer transparency.

Useful Guide for sustainable fish and its contaminant levels (but doesn’t rate for irradiation):

For a useful seafood guide, visit Environmental Defense Fund’s (EDF) Sea Food Selector.  EDF’s scientists analyze many aspects of wild fisheries and fish farming operations for more than 200 types of seafood frequently sold in the U.S. market (for details, see our eco-rating methodology). The scientists collect the latest information on omega-3s and mercury in seafood to provide the best recommendations possible.

EDF guide is a helpful tool when wanting to choose the fish with the lowest contaminant levels.

Monterey Bay’s SeaFood Watch recently took off its rating of contaminants. One of the representatives said that there was not enough interest from consumers.  The other reason is that there is not enough “concrete” science for them to use for the rating system.

Purchase online through Vital Choice *:

Vital Choice assures no radiation PLUS they meet the EDF’s guidelines for eco friendly fishery practice AND lowest contaminant level and more.

In January 2015, I asked about their radiation protocol and here is the response I received from the company: “I just wanted to inform you that our owner, Randy Hartnell, called me this morning to talk about the irradiation question you have. You should be happy to hear that none of our seafood has gone through any irradiation. That goes for our canned seafood and our frozen.”

Choose local and organic foods:

Another way to avoid irradiated food is to choose locally grown and/or, organic foods as much as possible. Certified organic foods may not be irradiated, and foods from a small, local farm are unlikely to be either.

Irradiation isn’t the solution to food-borne illness. In fact, it serves to distract attention from the unsanitary conditions of industrial agriculture, which creates the problem in the first place.

Food manufacturers love it as it makes the food last longer on store shelves. Food that has been depleted of life has that kind of an effect. That is why you should choose your food that only lasts for a few days refrigerated….unless it is naturally fermented.

If we surrender our interest in what we eat to the food supply industry and those regulation organizations that are often swayed by food supply industry pressure, we may allow our food to be compromised in unhealthy—if not dangerous—ways.

 

Are you curious to know the difference between radiation and irradiation? Here is a good explanation.

For more on this subject, see the chart for recommended sources of sustainable foods.

* To help my customers, I have set up an account with Vital Choice.  New customers will save 10% on purchases.  Free shipping for order over $99

I earn a small commission if you use the links in this article to purchase the products I mentioned. I only recommend products I would use myself or that I use with my clients. Your purchase helps support this site and my ongoing research.

 

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To Your Health,

Caroline

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About Caroline

My vision is to empower you to achieve your optimal health and lead a healthy life through awareness and education. It is to bring you simple, delicious, nutritionally dense foods and easy recipes that support the wellness of your mind, body and soul. My goal is to teach the effective principles and practices of our ancestors in a modern context forliving a vibrant life.

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