ANZFA has recommended that State, Territory and Federal Ministers to approve food irradiation of herbs, spices and some nuts later this week.
The Australian Consumers Association condemns the recommendation, which if successful will allow domestic irradiation of herbs and spices at three times the current international standard. “Consumers have been taken for a ride. Food irradiation has been put forward as an alternative to ethylene oxide, a potential cancer-causing agent, to ensure disease free herbs and spices. ANZFA was supposed to get rid of all ethylene oxide residues by the end of this month. But in yet another back down after industry pressure, ANZFA have recommended that residues from the risky gas remain in food for another 2 years while in the same breath approving food irradiation to do the same job.
“ANZFA has shown disregard to the current international standards, jumping ahead of serious international negotiations to determine the safety of irradiating foods at such high doses.
“Food irradiation is not wanted and is not needed for any of the products ANZFA wants to zap. ANZFA recommends that herbs, spices, herbal infusions, peanuts, cashews, almonds and pistachio nuts should be irradiated in Australia. This means that Australia will be open to irradiated herbs, spices, and nuts from other countries while our own quality products will be able to be zapped and sold.
“Ministerial approval of this product will mean bland and less nutritious food for consumers. Food irradiation depletes the very compounds which make herbs and spices flavoursome and essential nutrients in nuts and other foods, including folate and vitamin E and A.
“There are a number of tried and tested alternatives to food irradiation which should be pursued before a potentially risky technology like food irradiation.
“The current proposal is poorly thought through. New Zealand still allows ethylene oxide residues in foods and as Australia and New Zealand have linked food regulatory system, these products are acceptable for sale in Australia. So even if food irradiation is approved it will not solve the ethylene oxide problem for Australian consumers.
“It is the worst possible outcome for consumers – continued exposure to ethylene oxide residues, with irradiated food being added to our plate. We would prefer to see a realistic phasing out of ethylene oxide, while working with industry to provide clean and green food for consumers. This can be achieved through audited food safety systems and less risky sterilisation methods, concluded Ms Smith. Choice Report
For more information or an interview contact Rebecca Smith on 02 9577 3373 or 0411 670 200.