Irradiated meat in National School Lunch program

December 19, 2002

Livestock and Seed Programs
Agriculture and Marketing Service
U.S. Department of Agriculture
Stop 0249, Room 2092-S
Washington, D.C. 20250-0249

Re: comments on irradiated meat in school lunches

Dear USDA,

On behalf of our 40,000 members, I'm writing to register opposition to the USDA's consideration of irradiated meat for the National School Lunch program. PCC Natural Markets is the largest consumer-owned cooperative retailer of natural foods in the United States, with seven stores in the Puget Sound region of Washington State.

The American people have spoken loudly and clearly on the issue of irradiation. More than 98 percent of Americans responding to a recent FDA survey say they wanted the law maintained or strengthened to clearly label irradiated foods. Allowing irradiated foods into the National School Lunch program, unlabeled, bypasses public opinion.

Irradiation is known to destroy vitamin and nutrient values. Irradiation exposes food to a dose of ionizing radiation equivalent to millions of chest x-rays. Irradiation creates new, untested chemicals in food called Unique Radiolytic Products, some of which are known or suspected to promote cancer and birth defects. There are no long-term studies on the safety of consuming irradiated food. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration did not follow its own testing protocols in approving irradiation. Irradiation does not address unwholesome conditions in some processing plants and does not remove contaminants. As you know, restaurants have refused to serve irradiated foods because consumers do not want them.

It's one thing to give consumers the option, with labeling, to purchase irradiated food. Under this proposal, children and their parents have no rights.

We urge you not to purchase irradiated food for the school lunch program.

Sincerely,

Randy Lee
Chief Financial Officer

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