Apr 10, 2007 (CIDRAP News) The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently proposed rules that would relax some labeling restrictions on irradiated foods and invited the public to comment. Oct 2006 FDA statement on E coli outbreak However, in an Apr 4 notice published in the Federal Register, the FDA proposed that only foods that are “materially changed” by irradiation be required to carry the radura logo and the term “irradiated.” The FDA defines a material change as an alteration in a food’s characteristics caused by irradiation, such as extended shelf-life in bananas or changes in color, texture, or taste that exceed the normal range of variability for the food. The proposed rule change would also allow companies to petition the FDA for permission to use alternative terms for irradiation and would permit firms to use the term “pasteurized” instead of “irradiated” if the process they use meets federal criteria for pasteurization. “It is possible that some manufacturers not currently using irradiation as a safety tool (because of the current labeling requirement) may opt to start using irradiation in order to enhance the safety of their products,” the FDA notice states. Some consumer groups, such as Public Citizen, strongly oppose food irradiation because they are suspicious about its effects and believe food producers will use it as a substitute for more traditional food safety measures. The bill broadened the definition of pasteurization to include any safe process that is at least as protective as pasteurization and is reasonably certain to kill the most resistant pathogens likely to occur in the food. The legislation also directed the FDA to review its regulations on labeling of irradiated foods, receive public comments, and then revise the regulations “as appropriate.” The 2002 farm bill specified that, until the issuance of new rules, anyone could petition the FDA for permission to change the labeling of an irradiated food, provided that the change “is not false or misleading in any material respect.” The FDA’s Federal Register notice says that the agency has not received any petitions from companies requesting the use of alternative labeling for their irradiated products. Currently, few foods are irradiated. Though several major health and science organizations, such as the World Health Organization and Infectious Diseases Society of America, have endorsed food irradiation as safe, US consumers have been slow to warm to irradiated foods. See also: It also says the labeling changes could allow some consumers to make more informed decisions about their food purchases, but it acknowledges that others may regard substitute terms as misleading. The FDA says in the notice that it was unclear how many products could be marketed without “irradiation” on the label if its proposal is adopted, because labeling requirements cannot be made in advance for all products. Labeling requirements will mostly likely be set case-by-case because the effects of irradiation on different foods vary. “It is more likely that this option would simply allow firms more flexibility in how they label irradiated foods,” the notice states. Comments from the public are due by Jul 3, 2007. The move toward loosening labeling rules for irradiated foods began nearly 5 years ago when Congress passed the 2002 farm bill. Labeling-related provisions intended to promote the acceptance of irradiated foods were included in amendments authored by Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa. Apr 4 FDA Federal Register notice on proposed change in labeling rules However, recent illness outbreaks caused by contaminated produce have sparked new interest in ways to make the US food supply safer. Last October, amid a nationwide Escherichia coli O157:H7 outbreak linked to fresh spinach, the FDA, in an outbreak update on its Web site, said it had a petition under review to permit the irradiation of multi-ingredient foods, including prepackaged fresh produce, to reduce microbial contamination. The FDA says companies are sure to consider their bottom line when deciding to make a labeling change, but the new rules could also increase the use of irradiation as a food safety tool. The revised labeling rules, however, could make it more difficult for consumers who want to avoid irradiated foods, because they would need to do more research on which foods are irradiated. Jun 17, 2002 CIDRAP News article “New farm bill may promote food irradiation, but changes could be slow” CIDRAP overview on food irradiation The FDA currently requires all irradiated foods to have the international radura symbol and the statement “treated by irradiation” or “treated with radiation” clearly displayed on the packaging.
Panelists discussed the geopolitical impact of and potential next steps to the Iran nuclear deal at the bi-weekly Students Talk Back hosted by the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics Wednesday in the Rosen Room of the Ronald Tutor Campus Center.The panel featured former State Assemblywoman Cindy Montañez, former State Assemblyman Anthony Portantino, Political Director of the USC College Democrats Samantha Archie and Vice President of the USC College Republicans Leesa Danzek.The discussion was co-moderated by Dan Schnur, director of the Unruh Institute, and Darian Nourian, sports editor of the Daily Trojan.The panel opened with a discussion of the benefits of the Iran nuclear agreement.“Nuclear scientists and nonproliferation experts in large part support the deal,” Archie said. “We also have the support of the global community, including Russia and China.”Archie also cited the far-reaching nature of the agreement, the lack of a viable alternative and the stringent safeguards set up by the deal as reasons to support the agreement. Though Danzek agreed with Archie on the importance of nonproliferation, she raised concerns about the deal’s possible consequences for the Middle East.“Iran is an enemy of many countries in the region, whether it’s Jordan, Israel, Saudi Arabia [or] Egypt,” Danzek said. “Countries like this have now said that they’re concerned about their own safety, so the ramifications of the deal in terms of nonproliferation would essentially lead to an arms race.”Montañez echoed Danzek’s apprehension and expressed doubts about the agreement’s effectiveness in preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons. She listed several provisions that are missing from the agreement that she and other critics see as crucial to dismantling Iran’s nuclear program.“What the deal does is that it leaves Iran’s nuclear infrastructure in place. It defers for 10 to 15 years, but does not stop them from ever being able to acquire nuclear weapons,” Montanez said. “There is no process … to have what they call ‘anywhere, anytime’ inspections. That means that anytime, anywhere, international inspectors could go in and inspect places where there could be potential nuclear activity.”Portantino agreed that there are flaws in the nuclear deal but said there were no credible alternatives to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.“I was reading some of the statements of the Congress members who voted, even those who supported the deal expressed reservations and said, ‘I wish it had done this,’ but nobody was bringing forward this,” Portantino said. “They had to choose the common interest, which was 15 years of snapback sanctions, 15 years of inspections, 15 years of delay to try to put in place a better alternative.”Danzek returned to discussing the potential geopolitical effects of the Iran nuclear agreement. She suggested that Russia and China have ulterior motives in supporting the deal, as China has already pledged billions of dollars to purchase surplus Iranian oil and Russia could potentially purchase intercontinental missiles and uranium supply from Iran.The panel then transitioned to a discussion of steps to take now that the nuclear agreement has been enacted.“Number one, we have to look at our allies in the region. How do we enhance and protect the qualitative military edge for Israel, to ensure that Israel, who is our strongest ally and the only democracy in the region, is strongly protected,” Montañez said. “Number two … we have to be able to work with Congress in a bipartisan manner to re-authorize the snapback sanctions that are set to expire next year.”Montañez warned about the inevitability of Iran violating the terms of the agreement and highlighted the importance of enforcing severe international penalties for those transgressions.“It’s going to be critical, for the country, for us as the United States and our allies around the world, to remain vigilant and mitigate the negative externalities that come from the deal that was passed,” Montañez said.Portantino echoed earlier sentiments about the need to protect Israel. He stressed that though the nuclear deal is imperfect, it is important to maintain hope in preventing discord and terrorism in the Middle East.“We can be cynical about the past, but we have to focus on being optimistic about the future,” Portantino said. “What’s presented in this agreement is the challenge to make it work, and the challenge to make sure that Israel’s safe, and the challenge to make sure that America’s intelligence is second to none, to make sure that Iran doesn’t acquire nuclear weapons.”