Australia’s first-ever irradiation-free food guide launched

May 26, 2006

Friends of the Earth and Food Irradiation Watch will today at 10.30am officially launch Australia’s first-ever guide to eating irradiation-free food.

The Irradiation-free Food Guide is a complete consumer’s guide to the impacts and potential dangers of irradiation, alternatives to irradiation, and Australian food companies’ practices and attitudes towards irradiation.

The central feature of the guide is a ten page chart on how to avoid irradiated food.  The chart is organised into grocery categories and rates companies according to their policy on food irradiation.  Companies are rated red, orange, and green, with non-respondents in a marked box within the red.

“The Guide is an aid to help consumers make informed choices about what they eat and which companies they support,” said Food Irradiation Watch spokesperson, Robin Taubenfeld.

“It is hoped that more companies will commit to being irradiation-free and move from the red and orange to the green category in time for the next edition of the Guide,”

Illegal until 1999, food irradiation became a hot topic when Food Standards were changed and irradiation company, Steritech, proposed to build a nuclear irradiation plant at Narangba/Deception Bay, just north of Brisbane.  

Despite great community opposition, the facility at Narangba/Deception Bay is now operating, and has been used to “treat” tropical fruit and other products with gamma-radiation from Cobalt-60.  So far, herbs, spices, herbal teas and nine tropical fruits have been approved for irradiation in Australia.   

“We have always had grave concerns about the potential impacts of irradiation and the inadequacy of labelling laws in Australia,” Ms Taubenfeld said. “This year, irradiated Queensland mangoes were found, illegally unlabelled in fruit shops in New Zealand.  As far as we know, no enforcement has taken place.  How can a consumer exercise their right to choose if neither industry nor the government are providing the information for them to do so?  That is where the Guide fits in.”

A pre-launch print-run of 5,000 Irradiation-free Food Guides ran out due to demand in WA, VIC, SA and throughout QLD.

A second print-run is now available following the official launch here in Victoria for national distribution and the guide is downloadable from the Food Irradiation Watch website

MEDIA CONTACT: Food Irradiation Watch, Robin Taubenfeld on 0411 118 737
Friends of the Earth: Adam Olive on 0419 174 816