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August 4, 1993

The Safety of Irradiated Foods-Reply

Author Affiliations

The University of Texas Medical School/ School of Public Health at Houston

JAMA. 1993;270(5):576. doi:10.1001/jama.1993.03510050041014

In Reply.  —The topic of food irradiation is timely and important. We will respond to the specific points raised by Dr Tritsch rather than provide an overview of the technology and its feasibility and the associated nutritional and micro-biological aspects. Those interested in the topic are referred to general reviews.1-3Irradiation produces radiolytic, not radioactive, products in foods. In a comprehensive review sponsored by the Food and Drug Administration,3 it was concluded that the available evidence failed to show that radiolytic substances, which are not unique to irradiated foods (they are found in foods subjected to other accepted types of food processing), were harmful to people in the amounts consumed. Specifically, the Food and Drug Administration indicated that there was no evidence that they posed a cancer hazard, interfered with reproduction, caused birth defects, or posed other long-term hazards. The report specifically indicated that formaldehyde, present in many