TAKE ACTION: Why is Queensland fast tracking a blanket approval for irradiation of all fruit and vegetables?

Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) is recommending the irradiation of all fresh fruit and vegetables. NOW is the time to write a submission - the deadline is now 24th December 2020, at 6pm AEDT - extended after community pressure.

Food Irradiation - fruit with a nuclear symbol

Despite previously saying a public consultation process would happen in April 2021, FSANZ changed their mind, and now the process closes this Friday! We have put together this FAQ to help you get across this issue, and what has happened.


Submissions need to be made in writing; be marked clearly with the word ‘Submission’  AND  quote the project number and name in the subject line: "A1193: Irradiation as a phytosanitary measure for all fresh fruit and vegetables"

Email your submission directly to: submissions@foodstandards.gov.au

Please cc in your state MP representative on the Australia New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation- and robin.taubenfeld@foe.org.au too. 

DEADLINE FOR SUBMISSIONS EXTENDED:  6pm (Canberra time) 24 December 2020 

Below are: 

Brief overview of food irradiation in Australia and New Zealand 

Sample letter

List of each state’s relevant local and national MPs

Food heart


Brief overview of food irradiation in Australia and New Zealand 

Food irradiation is used for shelf-life extension and for neutralising, not removing, contaminants or pests. Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) has approved 26 fruits and vegetables for irradiation as well as herbs, spices and herbal infusions.  It now wants to approve a blanket approval for the irradiation of all  fresh fruit and vegetables.  This approval would significantly increase the proportion of irradiated foods in  the average Australian and New Zealander diet.  

To date, Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) has approved the irradiation of herbs, spices, herbal  infusions, and a wide variety of fruits and vegetables including: blueberries, raspberries, mangoes, mangosteens,  pawpaws, carambolas, breadfruits, custard apples, lychees, longans, rambutans, persimmons, tomatoes,  capsicums, apples, apricots, cherries, nectarines, peaches, plums, honeydew, rockmelon, strawberries, table  grapes, zucchini and squash. 

Irradiation decreases the vitamin and nutritional content of food and disrupts its molecular structure,  producing free radicals and potentially harmful chemicals such as benzene, formaldehyde and  cyclobutanones. 

Irradiation is being promoted as an “alternative” to some post-harvest chemicals that are being phased out.   Numerous non-chemical alternatives exist. Irradiation is not an alternative to chemical treatments. At best,  irradiation may substitute for some post-harvest chemical treatments. However, the food most likely to be  subject to irradiation is food produced using “conventional” agricultural processes – which today means using  chemicals and pesticides and possibly GMOs from seed development through harvesting. 

Labelling is inadequate and must be improved to ensure the public’s right to choose. Current laws  already  allow shops to use a sign close by to irradiated produce, rather than actual stickers or labels and fail to  prescribe mandatory wording for the irradiation statement, leaving the messaging up to marketing  companies. Neither the word radiation nor irradiation is required. 

For more information visit:

Food Irradiation A1193 FAQ   Facebook   Website (under re-construction)


Sample letter

Deadline 6pm Canberra time Dec 24, 2020 

To: Food Standards Australia New Zealand 

Email: submissions@foodstandards.gov.au 

CC: your relevant state & federal MP, robin.taubenfeld@foe.org.au

Subject line: Submission RE: A1193: Irradiation as a phytosanitary measure for all fresh fruit and vegetables 

I oppose the blanket approval of irradiation of irradiation for all fresh fruit and vegetables. I have concerns about the wholesomeness of irradiated food as well as the environmental and social impacts of irradiating  our food.  Numerous alternatives to irradiation exist and I  do not believe that the irradiation of these fruits  

for quarantine purposes benefits my family.  I am also worried that irradiated food will not be adequately  labelled.  

Numerous studies have shown the potential health risks posed by irradiated food. The approval of regularly  eaten fruit and vegetables could significantly increase the amount of irradiated food in our diet. 

In 2003, concerns over the safety of irradiated food led the European Union Irradiation to rule out further  irradiation approvals.  The Australian Senate followed suit with a call for approvals to be halted until further  research has been conducted. Claims that irradiated foods are safe are indefensible as no research on long term consumption of an irradiated diet have been conducted.  

Irradiation has been shown to deplete vitamin C, vitamin A, proteins, essential fatty acids and other nutrients in food and has been linked to health problems such as nutritional deficiencies, immune system  disorders, abnormal lymph cells, and genetic damage. 

In 2008-9, irradiation was responsible for neurological disorders leading to paralysis and in some cases, death, of up to one hundred Australian pet cats. Irradiated cat food is now banned in Australia. The European Food Safety Authority acknowledges that the risk to humans cannot be ruled out. 

While irradiation is promoted as beneficial to Australian farmers; each approval also enables irradiated  imports from overseas. Irradiation is a tool of large agri-business – and supports mass production systems  that diminish the power of local food producers and destroy local markets.  

Irradiation will not eliminate the use of chemicals and pesticides in crop production; it will be used in  conjunction with these and other food processes. 

Finally, I am not confident that these fruits will be adequately labelled. This will lead to foods being marketed as “fresh” though they are processed. Irradiated food and their packages must be individually  labelled “treated with radiation” or “irradiated.“ A1092 does not assure me that this will be the case. 

For these reasons I call on you to reject A1193 and to rescind all previous irradiation approvals. I look forward to hearing your response to my concerns. 

Thank you, 

Your Name: 

Your Address: 

Your Phone Number: 


List of each state’s relevant local and national MPs

Food regulations must pass through the Ministerial Forum before becoming law. Each state has at least one state on the Council. If you let the ministers and decision makers know how you feel about irradiation, it may just help make a decision balance in favour of the consumer rights. We suggest sending your comments to Food Standards Australia New Zealand on submissions@foodstandards.gov.au & your local member/s  as well as federal representatives.

Australian Government: 

Chair: Senator the Hon Richard Colbeck 
Minister for Aged Care and Senior Australians 
Minister for Youth and Sport
senator.colbeck@aph.gov.au 

The Hon David Littleproud, MP
Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management
David.Littleproud.MP@aph.gov.au 

New Zealand: 

The Hon Dr Ayesha Verrall, MP
Minister for Food Safety
a.verrall@ministers.govt.nz

Australian State & Territory Reps: 

QLD 

Lead Minister: The Hon Yvette D’Ath, MP
Minister for Health and Ambulance Services
health@ministerial.qld.gov.au 

The Hon Mark Furner, MP 
Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries
agriculture@ministerial.qld.gov.au 

NSW 

Lead Minister: The Hon. Adam John Marshall, MP
Minister for Agriculture and Western New South Wales
northerntablelands@parliament.nsw.gov.au

The Hon Brad Hazzard, MP
Minister for Health
wakehurst@parliament.nsw.gov.au

NT 

Lead Minister: The Hon Natasha Fyles, MLA 
Minister for Health
minister.fyles@nt.gov.au 

VIC 

Lead Minister: The Hon Martin Foley, MP 
Minister for Health 
martin.foley@parliament.vic.gov.au 

Minister for Health
The Hon Jaclyn Symes, MLC
Minister for Agriculture
jaclyn.symes@parliament.vic.gov.au 

WA 

Lead Minister: The Hon Roger Cook, MLA
Minister for Health
Minister.Cook@dpc.wa.gov.au 

TAS 

Lead Minister: The Hon Sarah Courtney, MP
Minister for Health
sarah.courtney@parliament.tas.gov.au 

The Hon Jeremy Rockliff, MP
Minister for Mental Health and Wellbeing
jeremy.rockliff@parliament.tas.gov.au 

ACT 

Ms Rachel Stephen-Smith, MLA
Minister for Health
stephen-smith@act.gov.au 

SA 

Lead Minister: The Hon Stephen Wade, MLC
Minister for Health and Wellbeing
Ministerforhealth@sa.gov.au


Whilst you are here, please make a tax deductible donation. Friends of the Earth relies on donations from people like you to keep running campaigns for social and environmental justice.