Saturday, April 24, 2010

Healthy Dose of Vitamin X (ray)

Eating healthy is becoming increasingly more difficult. There are tens of thousands of chemical additives in our food, and every day new ones are introduced. It seems like there is always something to worry about when it comes to food. And now, we've got something new to worry about: X-rays.

That's right, I said X-rays. You're probably thinking what I was thinking when I read this article earlier this week. X-rays are for broken bones right? Unfortunately, that's not true anymore. Now X-rays are for processing food too.  According to the article, "X-ray machine[s] can eliminate E.coli, vibrio, salmonella, cronobacter sakazakii, shigella and Listeria monocytogenes from seafood, dairy products and leafy green vegetables such as spinach and lettuce." And they are working on a way to use X-rays on tomatoes. Eliminating bacteria from food quickly and effectively is an attractive concept, but the scientists at Mississippi State that came up with this technology admit that "there is minor loss of vitamins A and C" as a result of this process. And minor wasn't defined.

I really hope this process doesn't get approved by the FDA, but it most likely will. The FDA approved food irradiation in 1963. The new X-ray technology is very similar to irradiation, so I see no reason why it would get rejected. Wikipedia defines irradiation as "exposure of materials to radiation to achieve a technical goal." In this case the goal is to kill the bacteria, but it also keeps produce fresher longer and causes fruit to ripen slower by altering the genetic make-up of the plant. No one really knows the effects of irradiation and that's why it's so freaky.

It seems like X-raying food is a quick fix solution with unknown results. If approved, it will let food handlers and farmers off the hook instead of forcing them to clean up their acts.  I am going to make sure to continue reading labels on food and stay away from anything that has been x-rayed or irradiated (hopefully they put that information on the food label) until we know for sure what the effects are.

What do you think? Would you feel comfortable buying and eating food that has been X-rayed or irradiated?


  1. Keep up the good work, I like your writing.

  2. Hi, I enjoy your blog. This is a good site and I wanted to post a note to let you know, great job! Thanks Amy

  3. Hey Melissa,

    I like that you're so passionate about this, even if I do tease you about it :P

    I mean, if you REALLY want organic, you should drink unpasteurized milk ;)