STOP CASSINI Newsletter #126 -- May 17th, 1999

Copyright (c) 1999

STOP CASSINI Newsletters Index

To: Subscribers, Press, Government Officials

Subject: Food Irradiation Labeling STOP CASSINI #126

Date: May 17th, 1999

Time Frame: There are 38 days left until the flyby of Venus, 7 weeks before the flyby of Earth.

Today's subjects:

Food Irradiation Labeling: Action needed TODAY!

[NOTE: The deadline has been extended to July 18th, 1999 -- rdh]

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Subject: Fwd: Food Irradiation and You

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Date: Tue, 4 May 1999 16:23:00 -0400
From: Korey Hartwich
Subject: Food Irradiation and You

Public Citizen's Critical Mass Energy Project

Unless you act by May 18, the Nuclear Industry Will Succeed in Forcing Irradiated Food Down Our Throats!

*** A new Food and Drug Administration (FDA) rule would allow manufacturers to sell irradiated food without any label warning consumers. By nullifying the chief obstacle to the expanded use of radiation --consumer opposition-- this rule would pave the way for a significant expansion of the sale of irradiated food and give a boost to the nuclear industry.

This would be a disaster!!!

*** Over 550 new facilities would need to be built to irradiate various foodstuffs if irradiation expands to according to industry projections.

*** Food irradiation facilities have a frightening record of accidents and other safety incidents.

*** According to a Carnegie-Mellon study, operating irradiators just to treat meat and poultry (much less spices, wheat, and other foodstuffs) would be extremely risky, with a 99.7% chance of multiple major incidents at these facilities (a major incident is defined by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) as "those that result in a release or spill of radioactive material, bodily harm, or a long term shut down of the facility").

*** The long term health effects of eating irradiated food are unknown. Irradiation reduces the vitamin content of food and creates new chemical substances called radiolytic products. Some of these substances are known carcinogens, like benzene, and others are completely new substances that have not been tested for toxicity.

*** ACT NOW!!! ***
** What you can do today **

*** Please write to the FDA and demand that the comment period be extended past May 18. Tell the FDA that food treated with radiation be indefinitely labeled with the radura (the international symbol for irradiated food) and a statement indicating it was treated with radiation. Say the absence of such a statement would be misleading because irradiation destroys vitamins and causes changes in sensory and spoilage qualities that are not obvious or expected by the consumer. Please DO NOT write a general statement opposing irradiation. The powers that be have already approved irradiation, we can only fight to keep the public informed (A sample letter can be found below).

*** Write your Representative and Senators, telling them to oppose the FDA rule (a sample letter can be found below).

*** Send this e-mail to as many concerned citizens as possible.

When writing to FDA, refer to Docket #98N-1038, "Irradiation in the production, processing, and handling of food".

Send comments before May 18, 1999 to:
Dockets Management Branch (HFA-305)
Food and Drug Administration
5630 Fishers Lane, Room 1061
Rockville, MD 20852
Send e-mail to and/or
(Put Docket #98N-1038 in the subject line)

NOTE: E-mail is discouraged because e-mails are often thrown out. A written letter is the most effective means of communication.


Dockets Management Branch (HFA-305)
Food and Drug Administration
5630 Fishers Lane, Room 1061
Rockville, Maryland 20852

Re: Docket No. 98N-1038, Irradiation in the Production, Processing, and Handling of Food

To whom it may concern:

I support the recommendation by the Center for Science in the Public Interest regarding labeling of irradiated foods:

"any foods, or any foods containing ingredients that have been treated by irradiation, should be labeled with a written statement on the principal display panel indicating such treatment. The statement should be easy to read and placed in close proximity to the name of the food and accompanied by the international symbol. If the food is unpackaged, this information should be clearly displayed on a poster in plain view and adjacent to where the product is displayed for sale."

Like other labels, irradiation labels are required by the FDA to be truthful and not misleading. I believe that the terms "treated with radiation" or "treated by irradiation" should be retained. Any phrase involving the word "pasteurization" is misleading because pasteurization is an entirely different process of rapid heating and cooling.

I recognize the radura as information regarding a material fact of food processing. The requirement for irradiation disclosure (both label and radura) should not expire at any time in the future. The material fact of processing remains. Even if some consumers become familiar with the radura, new consumers (e.g., young people, immigrants) will not be. The symbol should be clearly understandable at the point of purchase for everyone. If there is no label, consumers will be misled into believing the food has not been irradiated.

I urge you to extend the comment period past its current end date of May 18 to allow more concerned citizens the time to write in about this issue. Also, please place the comments received on the Internet so that the public can be informed about who is participating in this comment process.



The Honorable [ ]
Washington, D.C. [ ]

Senator/Representative [ ],

I have recently been made aware of a frightening development at the Food and Drug Administration. Under pressure from food manufacturers and supporters of the nuclear industry, the FDA is considering a rule that would remove labeling requirements for foods treated with radiation. The public only has until May 18 to voice its objections to this rule. Currently, any food treated with radiation during the production process is labeled with a symbol known as a radura (the international symbol for irradiated foods) and either a statement saying "treated with radiation" or "treated by irradiation." The rule before the FDA would allow manufacturers to sell any and all irradiated foods to the consumer with nary a mention of the use of radiation during processing. This is bad for consumers.

Despite the fact that the FDA has determined that radiation is safe for food, many consumers, including myself, do not want to eat foods treated with radiation. Radiation changes the texture, taste, nutritional value, and chemical composition of foods. Radiation creates a heretofore unseen class of unique radiolytic products that have never been tested for their possible carcinogenic effects on humans. These are things that I do not want to put into my body.

This is a clear cut issue of a consumer being able to know what is in their food. We know what the fat, protein, carbohydrate, and vitamin content is in our food, why can we not know whether our food has been treated with radiation emanating from some of the most deadly substances known to man? I implore you, as a constituent and a friend, to write a letter to the FDA about this issue and ask them why your constituents should be kept in the dark about whether their food has been irradiated and why the comment period has been so short. Enclosed you will find the letter that I wrote to the FDA about this issue. I hope it is helpful in formulating your own comments.


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Sample letter to FDA by editor of SC newsletter

Dockets Management Branch (HFA-305)
Food and Drug Administration
5630 Fishers Lane, Room 1061
Rockville, Maryland 20852

May 17th, 1999

Re: Docket No. 98N-1038, Irradiation in the Production, Processing, and Handling of Food

To whom it may concern:

I wish to strongly support the recommendation by the Center for Science in the Public Interest regarding labeling of irradiated foods:

"any foods, or any foods containing ingredients that have been treated by irradiation, should be labeled with a written statement on the principal display panel indicating such treatment. The statement should be easy to read and placed in close proximity to the name of the food and accompanied by the international symbol. If the food is unpackaged, this information should be clearly displayed on a poster in plain view and adjacent to where the product is displayed for sale."

There are many reasons why such labeling should be required. The first is that the foods have unquestionably been altered. Trace quantities of hundreds if not thousands of new organic chemical compounds have been created by the irradiation process. Now please don't get me wrong; I'm not saying these new compounds are harmful; I don't know (Actually, some compounds that are known to be created, like Benzene, are known carcinogens.) At any rate they aren't "natural" and they weren't there before. We have a right to know what we are putting into our bodies. That is as basic a right as any I can think of - something about the right to LIFE, liberty, and the pursuit of -- though not necessarily the attainment of -- happiness.

Indeed, this fact alone - the creation of new organic chemicals - undoubtedly makes it statistically possible to test whether or not a product has been irradiated. However, since the compounds are new, untested, unregulated, randomly created trace substances very similar to substances already being created naturally by the decay process, other preparation processes, sunlight, natural and other man-made radiation, etc. etc., there is no absolute proof that a substance has or has not been irradiated, besides a statistical analyses of the hundreds of trace elements that might be created.

This would be difficult, expensive, and prone to error, not to mention time-consuming.

But again - we have a basic human right to decide what does (and does not) go into our bodies! If someone does not want to ingest irradiated foods - simply because one is opposed to irradiation not for what it might do to the food (possibly nothing harmful, but who knows with all those new trace compounds?) but for what the industry might do by accident, such as spill the radioactive material used for the irradiation process , or the whole factory might burn down, releasing the toxins to the environment, or they might accidentally irradiate their own workers or our U. S. inspectors, or they might simply try to irradiate already-gone-bad food, etc.

Actually, my understanding is that the real purpose of food irradiation is not to protect the consumer, who is far better protected for example by NOT eating animal carcasses in the first place, and sticking to locally-grown vegetables and other produce. Or if they think they must eat flesh, and also for all other food preparation, then they are far better protected by the United States Government's hiring enough inspectors to insure that there is proper handling of the food products all along the way.

In other words, the real purpose of irradiation is to reduce the quality-control requirements of the food industry. Because if products were handled properly ALL ALONG THE WAY, and in smaller batches by more distributed and smaller food processing firms, there would not be cases of TWENTY MILLION POUNDS of ground up dead animals having to be recalled and incinerated, to the good of no one. The animals lived and died (sometimes incredibly painfully) for nothing - not because we did not have food irradiation in place, but because the entire industry is filthy and perverted. 1% to 3% of all chickens die each day from the squalid conditions of the factory farm, and never even make it to market. These carcasses immediately begin rot. Nothing can possibly make such an industry clean and wholesome. But food irradiation is a false promise of a solution. It may work for a few years, but eventually it MUST inevitably lead to less clean conditions on the farms, in the factories and even in the supermarkets where the products are sold - and at home. After all, all that was needed all along, was attention to well-known and long-established techniques; such as keeping surfaces clean, keeping things chilled to the proper temperature AT ALL TIMES (even the packages in the far corners of the truck or display stand) and so on. This is how food should be kept healthy - not by masking the problem through a dangerous distribution of highly radioactive substances throughout America's factory food preparation centers, for eventual dispersal throughout the ecosystem via the afore-mentioned causes such as fires, leaks, spills, etc. etc..

Simply put, some of us wish not to take part in this madness. We recognize the value of other animals on this planet, and we try to treat them with respect. We likewise, have no interest in supporting an industry which cannot even get its employees to wash their hands after using the restroom - which is the real source of the problem for most of the major outbreaks of disease that have occurred across America in the last decade.

We see no reason why we should be forced to support the food irradiation process. It comes on the tail of a nuclear horror that in 50 years has left waste dump after waste dump uncleaned, leaching, polluting, killing and destroying human life by causing cancer, leukemia and birth defects via damage to the genetic code. Sure, to some food irradiation simply means a cleaner life for all. But others recognize the ugly tip of a new nuclear assault and worse - a trend towards relaxing our attention to detail for the sake of corporate efficiency.

Because after all, healthy food, properly handled, has NEVER killed ANYBODY!

So why do we need irradiation? Simply to allow improper care! This is the most abhorrent and ultimately unworkable solution to a problem I can possibly imagine! It is sweeping a terrible problem under the rug. What will happen when some food goes out from some filthy slaughterhouse which somehow missed the irradiation step, or where the irradiation machine malfunctioned and didn't provide an adequate dosage? I'll tell you: it will be 10 times worse than what happens now when bad food goes out the door of the animal horror-factory and makes it to the consumers. 10 times worse, because not only will the plant which has been relying on irradiation rather than cleanliness be many times more contaminated than the average plant is now (before mass-irradiation), but because people's bodies will be used to eating sterile food. They will thus have little or no resistance to even normal contaminants. And because the average size of the food preparation factory will increase dramatically in the coming years, to justify the enormous cost of a food irradiation systems they will all be installing.

I am not for food irradiation, but not because I am terribly worried that irradiated food might be harmful. That is a relatively minor worry to me. Rather, I wish to be able to choose not to support the tip of the nuclear iceberg. And furthermore, it will always be a mark of distinction, to me, that a product would not need to resort to "killing everything" to ensure its products are safe - I wish to purchase from companies which understand that simple, basic sanitary procedures are all that is needed to prevent the spread of infectious disease. And lastly, I wish to do everything I can not to support the factory food system even without irradiation, which I consider to be wasteful, inhumane, and dangerous, and food irradiation cannot and will not be done any other way but by only the largest processors.

As an American, I am entitled to the information I need to make my own choices. That is all anyone is asking for here. Food labeling is important for many reasons, and to decide that this particular item need not be labeled properly, sets a dangerous trend for the FDA which I hope they will not follow. What will be next? It will no longer be necessary to put where the calories come from? What the ingredients are? What country the ingredients come from? Just how far does the FDA want to go with this?

It is my opinion that the least that can be done is that the terms "treated with radiation" or "treated by irradiation" should be retained. The substitution of any phrase using the word "pasteurization" would be misleading, since pasteurization is a different process (rapid heating and cooling).


Russell D. Hoffman
Peace Activist
Educational Software Developer:
Programmer: ALL ABOUT PUMPS,
The Animated Software Company
Carlsbad CA

Where to send a comment to NASA, and a sample comment

After complaining to the FDA about food irradiation, why not take this opportunity to complain to NASA about their own nuclear madness -- Cassini -- or ask NASA for information about any of their dangerous environmental assaults on humanity:

NASA Headquarters Office of Space Science Public Affairs Office: 202-358-1547

To send a comment to NASA you can visit this URL for a form to fill out:

Here's what I sent:

To Whom It May Concern,

How many different people have sent you letters or emails indicating they oppose the Cassini mission, since its inception, divided out by month and year?


Russell Hoffman

We'll report if we get any response.


To stop NASA's dangerous upcoming August 18th, 1999 flyby of Earth by NASA's Cassini spacecraft, with its deadly cargo of 72.3 pounds of plutonium 238 dioxide, arrogantly launched in 1997 amidst strong protests, please start by asking NASA for the 1995 Environmental Impact Statement for the Cassini Mission and all subsequent related documents. Tell them you need it IMMEDIATELY (members of the world press should do this too). All citizens of the world are ENTITLED to these documents because of the global threat Cassini poses. Here's where to get information:

Cassini Public Information
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
4800 Oak Grove Drive
Pasadena CA 91109
(818) 354-5011

NASA states that they do not have the resources anymore to answer most emails they receive. Liars! They have $13 billion dollars to play with. They can answer the public's questions. At least, ask them one specific question: How many letters did they get opposing Cassini today? (And tell them you oppose it too!) If each reader asks them that...

Here's NASA's "comments" email address:

Daniel Goldin is the head of NASA. Here's his email address: or

Here's the NASA URL to find additional addresses to submit written questions to:


Be sure to "cc" the president and VP and your senators and congresspeople, too.

Always include your full name and postal address in all correspondence to any Government official of any country.

After you have acquainted yourself with what NASA is doing, please:



CANCEL CASSINI by JUNE 24th, 1999!

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