Proposal to irradiate imported fruits and vegetables

Docket No. 98-030-1
Regulatory Analysis & Development, PPD
APHIS, Suite 3C03
4700 River Road Unit 118
Riverdale, MD 20737-1238

July 21, 2000

Docket No. 98-030-1

Dear USDA-APHIS:

I'm writing to comment on the USDA's proposal to use irradiation on imported fruits and vegetables to prevent fruit flies and other pests from threatening American agriculture.

As the largest cooperative retailer of natural foods in the United States, PCC Natural Markets represents 40,000 member households in Washington State. We are opposed to the irradiation of food and will not knowingly sell it in any of our eight (8) stores.

There are other more healthful and less expensive methods than irradiation to control pests in imported produce.

The USDA's Agriculture Research Service reports that irradiating food causes major losses of vitamins A, C, E, and B-complex, degrading the quality of the food. As much as 20-80% of these nutrient values are destroyed by irradiation, depending on the food and the length of exposure to radiation. Extending shelf life two or three times further misleads consumers who believe they're buying truly "fresh" food.

In addition, the irradiation process creates Unique Radiolytic Products (URPS), which are substances formed by molecules being pulled apart and then recombining. These URPS are not well identified, much less well understood nor adequately studied.

Only fresh, wholesome food that has not been treated with irradiation should be allowed into the United States. Only fresh, wholesome food that does not hurt American farmers or consumers should be allowed into our markets.

Please do not allow this proposal to be made into law.

Sincerely,

Jeff Voltz
Chief Executive Officer

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