Food Irradiation – Why I Say ‘No’

Written by Cyndi

Cyndi is about educating. Her greatest love is to teach, both in the public arena and within the large corporate food companies, to enable everyone to make better choices so they too can enjoy greater health throughout their lives. Considered one of the world's foremost experts in Nutrition, Cyndi brings over 40 years experience, research and knowledge.

January 12, 2021

The war on germs has gone unchecked. Last year, the narrative was to wash your hands, wear a mask and stay 1.5 metres from each other. This narrative may work if we support the theory that a virus causes disease.

However, what about the terrain theory which says that an opportunistic microbe can only invade a terrain that is suitable for its growth? A healthy terrain or body is capable of living with billions of micro-organisms (microbiome – viruses, bacteria, fungi, parasites, moulds) without causing disease. A healthy terrain promotes symbiotic harmony for the benefit of both.

Last year, there was never a conversation about the importance of sunshine and increasing vitamin D levels, nor were ultra-processed foods banned. The importance of the breath and health was never mentioned, nor movement as an important part of the immune system activation. Lastly, the connection with loved ones was completely dismissed.

And now I see the war on microbes passing on to all fresh fruits and vegetables.

The Queensland government has applied to Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ) to irradiate all fresh fruits and vegetables.

On the FSANZ website the following can be found when you search for ‘food irradiation’:

“Irradiation is a technique used to keep food safe. In Australia it is mostly used to control the spread of pests like fruit fly but can also be used to kill dangerous bacteria and microorganisms that cause food poisoning, like Salmonella, Campylobacter, listeria and E. coli. It can also be used as a way to prolong shelf life of food by slowing down the ripening process and can stop vegetables from sprouting.

When food is irradiated, it’s exposed to ionising radiation, either from gamma rays or a high-energy electron beam or x-rays. These rays are similar to microwaves, and pass through the food just like in a microwave, but don’t heat up to any significant extent. 

Irradiation does not make food radioactive and you can’t get sick from eating it – it is as safe and healthy as non-irradiated food.” 

Already 26 fruits and vegetables plus herbs and spices and herbal infusions are approved for irradiation in Australia – these should be labelled. They include blueberries, raspberries, persimmons, apple, apricot, cherry, nectarine, peach, plum, honeydew, rockmelon, squash, grapes, strawberry, zucchini, tomatoes, capsicum breadfruit, carambola, custard apple, litchi, longan, mango, mangosteen, papaya and rambutan.

You might not be aware of the irradiation symbol:

Irradiation-logo

If the food is not in packaging, the symbol can be near the produce, or you may see a sticker.

Food poisoning does happen and many foods are being sanitised or irradiated in order to kill microbes that may cause food poisoning. While sanitisation will kill microbes on the outside of the food, irradiation passes through the food killing all microbes by destroying the DNA.

I see food irradiation as continuing a problem rather than getting to the root cause of the issue.

Modern farming methods use chemicals to destroy pests and weeds. These chemicals (and more specifically glyphosate) not only kill a broad spectrum of weeds, but also kill the natural ecology of the soil, weakening the plants and animals that grow on the soil, thus the need for more and more pesticides to protect the plants and animals.

Dr Don Huber, a plant pathologist, told me that glyphosate makes the plant vulnerable to the soil’s pathological microbes by stopping a biochemical pathway in the plant that helps it use minerals and make aromatic amino acids, folic acid and the iron carrier enterobactin. When this happens, the plant becomes sick and pathological microbes invade and kill it. When the plant is healthy, the pathological microbes are kept in check. This is called a healthy terrain and pretty much proves the terrain theory.

Glyphosate kills beneficial microbes but some varieties of pathological microbes are resistant to it. So, our soil becomes overrun with pathological microbes (just like our own microbiome when we use too many antibiotics or eat foods sprayed with glyphosate and/or eat an ultra-processed food diet) and thus the foods we grow in the soil then become contaminated with listeria, salmonella and other microbes that cause food poisoning.

When I go into my garden to pick my salad greens, herbs, root vegetables, zucchini, cucumber and the like, I know that my food is safe. I support the ecology of the soil using regenerative farming practices and I do not use any chemicals. I know that there are soil-based microbes on my food. If there is a little dirt on the food, I’ll give it a cursory wash. These soil-based microbes that remain on my freshly picked food along with the food are called, in modern terms, probiotics and prebiotics. The soil-based microbes not only help me digest my raw salad greens and herbs but also contribute to the thriving healthy balance of my microbiome.

Food irradiation, depending on the amount that is used, not only kills fruit fly but also kills bacteria, virus and parasites within and on the food. But it doesn’t just kill the bad microbes, it kills the beneficial ones as well.

The main focus of the irradiation of food, and the science that goes with it, is on nutrient values, free radicals (ESR/EPR) and ionising properties. Yet, how well are the nutrients in the irradiated food absorbed by the human body and what does the daily consumption of irradiated fruits and vegetables eventually do to the microbiome and thus the health of humans? These are the questions I have which are not answered in the literature.

Once again we have a mechanistic view of this procedure rather than an overall view. This is how our agricultural practices have been since the Green Revolution, trying to control nature. Yet now we are seeing the sixth greatest extinction on planet earth happening before our very eyes. Bees, insects and birds are suffering as well as animals and humans.

To continue to do what we are doing will continue to give us the same result. The soil, animal and human terrain is getting weaker and weaker and thus more and more pathological microbes are invading our space and causing pandemics, mass extinction of vulnerable invertebrates and decimation of the diversification of plant life.

Education is the key to knowing what is happening to our food and deciding what is best for your health and that of your family.

Wisdom would say let’s look at the root cause, but for some reason our authorities believe in keeping on killing in order to solve the problem – and irradiation of all fresh fruits and vegetables has been proposed by the Queensland government.

Submissions for public comment have already passed. As soon as I knew about the irradiation proposal, I sent the information to my students and graduates of The Nutrition Academy to submit their comment. It is not an easy process and it’s hard to get your head around all the terminology and understand the science of irradiation.  So public discourse with FSANZ would have been difficult for even the most highly educated on this.

Like anything that is enforced without much comment, we must be diligent in where we source our food and who produces our food. Education is the key. You do not want to blindly consume foods from a grocery store that are genetically modified, irradiated, ultra-processed and/or filled with agricultural chemical debris. Many people who read my book Lab to Table have an awakening about the food they are consuming and the health ailments they are experiencing. Once they wake up and source their food from their local area and farmers market or begin their own food garden, then they begin to heal themselves and their family.

Let’s face it, irradiation of food is ‘Big Ag’. It is being proposed so that food will last longer and profits will be higher.

We have lost 94% of our vegetable seed varieties in the 20th century. When we irradiate our fresh fruits and vegetables that are still around today, our seeds within these foods become unviable, therefore we can’t save seeds and grow our own foods. So, the potatoes and sweet potatoes that I purchase to sprout for my vegetable garden will not be accessible to people anymore, unless you purchase organic. If grains and seeds and whole spices like coriander are irradiated then I can’t sprout them to grow more in my garden. The home gardener will become even more of a minority and the miracle of a tomato or pumpkin plant growing out of your soil from your food scraps will not happen.

I suggest you watch the 2017 documentary Seed: The Untold Story. It will make your heart pump with joy for the seed savers around the world, but it will also highlight the stark reality of how much of our food is patented and owned by Big Chemical and Agricultural companies like Monsanto and Bayer. They are about profit, they are not about human, animal or soil health.

If you are not satisfied with my opinion (and this is an opinion piece), then please go to the notes below to read more on the science behind food irradiation; I’ve given you opposing viewpoints. I could have repeated it all but I felt it was more poignant to offer an opinion by using my philosophy of an historical perspective and the philosophy of vitalism. I have found that by using these two guides throughout my career, it has stood the test of time in creating my health and that of my family.

Further Reading

The Dangers of Food Irradiation – Dr Gayle Eversole: https://rense.com/general81/foodr.htm

Seed: The Untold Story trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zhb8o4MsdfY

Food Irradiation, Threat to Our Health or an Ideal Alternative to Chemical/Heat Treatment?: https://suppversity.blogspot.com/2017/05/food-irradiation-threat-to-our-health.html

Food Irradiation – Unresolved Issues – David Acheson, Donald B Louria: https://academic.oup.com/cid/article/33/3/378/278056

https://www.foodstandards.gov.au/consumer/foodtech/irradiation/Pages/default.aspx

Previous irradiation applications approved by FSANZ:

Food Irradiation – Food Standards Australia and New Zealand: https://www.foodstandards.gov.au/publications/Pages/Nutritional-impact-of-phytosanitary-irradiation-of-fruits-and-vegetables.aspx

Free Radicals and Food Irradiation: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8660399/

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