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By Maxi Goldschmidt
Suddenly Clarín and La Nación tell us the good news: the arrival on the gondolas of "long life food." Thus, as if nothing else, we are informed that the National Administration of Medicines, Food and Medical Technology (ANMAT) modified the Argentine Food Code and now the irradiation of food will be allowed, which for the reader is excellent news: because now, For example, you can buy a piece of meat, store it in the closet next to your shirts, and eat it in a couple of months, without using the refrigerator.
In black letters, the Clarín note ensures that a source from the ANMAT (who?) Defines the process as "one more physical method of conservation that is used for a technological or health purpose" and that from that body "they take for granted that irradiated food does not harm your health and guarantees that it maintains the original appearance, taste and nutrients ”.
The one that burns with milk ...
But we, who burn with media milk every day, are suspicious. And if we see a cow, we want to know what happens before it reaches the table. That is why we went to look for other voices, to find out if it is really safe to eat irradiated food.
“No, the process does not transform food into a radioactive element, it does cause ionization of its atoms, generating free radicals that destroy natural antioxidants and are potentially toxic. In addition, specific chemical compounds are generated for the degradation of fatty acids that are indicators of the process. There is insufficient evidence that they are not harmful to long-term health, even at low doses. That is why the precautionary principle applies ”. Adriana Contarini has a degree in Food Technology and asks to emphasize that “food categories cannot be released to irradiation because each one has a particular sensitivity that is different from the rest. It is not the same to irradiate lemons or grapes than mandarins. And, as published, they belong to the same category ”.
Plants generate radioactive waste and another problem is the transport of these radioactive substances. The final disposition is complicated and never totally safe. They are isolated in a very thick concrete chamber and buried. If it is done here or they transfer it, it is not known, nobody informs it.
In addition, Contarini, based on previous studies that are omitted here when advertising this type of food, warns that "irradiation does not remove feces, urine, pus, vomit and tumors that usually remain on beef and chicken meat, after their processing in dirty and degraded places. These conditions are worsened with the application of the final irradiation, since the producers trust that their bad hygienic practices will be corrected by the irradiation. It is likely that Good Manufacturing Practices eliminate this It is inconvenient, but it is known that even in countries with greater food safety controls, there have been episodes of massive poisoning due to lack of good practices ”.
Benefits for whom?
In the highlight of the note from La Nación, in larger letters, it reads that "this procedure also benefits producers since they could market the merchandise in places further away from the point of origin." However, in a document that is currently being discussed by different specialists from the Free Chair of Food Sovereignty (CALISA) of the UBA, it is stated that “irradiation encourages the concentration of food production and processing in large companies that have the ability to invest in this technology. Small producers and small industries cannot reach this tool. On the other hand, irradiation prolongs the shelf life of fruits, vegetables and meats. This fact encourages the importation of food from distant markets that can thus bear the transport and storage times. This import would harm local producers and industries; and the diner himself who would be faced with less nutritious food, with altered sensory properties and containing potentially harmful products ”.
Little by little we begin to understand why, even before reaching the shelves, the media “sell” these products to us. And also, it's starting to scare us. So we are going to keep asking.
Are there plants that carry out this process in our country? They are dangerous?
Yes, plants are dangerous. In our country there are two private plants: PISI, in Ezeiza (it processes 10% of production) and IONICS, in Tigre (it processes 90%) in addition to the National Atomic Energy Commission. The latter investigates what dose should be applied to each product to achieve the desired objective. Plants generate radioactive waste and another problem is the transport of these radioactive substances. If it is done here or they transfer it, it is not known, nobody informs it.
Why do other countries allow it?
Because there is a lot of initial investment and the process is relatively cheap once the plant is up and running. That does not guarantee cheap or safe food. It requires a lot of training from the personnel operating the process. More than anything, it benefits the largest companies.
In the document that, in a few hours, will be made public by CALISA, the School of Nutrition dependent on the University of Buenos Aires, different scientific works from around the world on irradiated food are reviewed. These are some of the conclusions that you will not read in the media that, when the business is behind, they tend to throw fruit, say any vegetables or sell you rotten meat.
* "Irradiation can generate strains of Escherichia Coli and / or Salmonella resistant to radiation, which would lead to this method of food preservation being, not only potentially ineffective, but even dangerous because it generates resistant strains of pathogenic microorganisms."
* “Irradiation destroys vitamins, mainly vitamin B1 (thiamine) and also Vitamin C. This has been demonstrated in irradiated pork, in oats and spinach and in fruits. Vitamin E is also usually reduced. Other preservation processes lead to a loss of vitamins but not so drastic. Supplementation is not always possible ”.