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Updated: 4/11/2007 2:47 pm
Irradiation is the process of exposing foods--including spices, fresh fruits and vegetables, meats, and poultry--to gamma rays, X-rays, or electrons to kill harmful micro-organisms and insect larvae (LAR-vuh) without having to use chemicals or preservatives. Proponents believe the process saves the consumer money and prolongs a food's shelf life. Opponents claim that vitamins are destroyed, and that flavor, texture, and color are changed in irradiated food. They also fear that micro-organisms that are resistant to radiation may develop, and that irradiated meat doesn't smell when it goes bad, so you won't know it. Since 1986, the F-D-A has required that food treated with irradiation be labeled to notify consumers of that fact, with the label including a special logo. Foods that aren't irradiated, but contain irradiated ingredients such as spices, aren't required to have a label.

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