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 Web Site concerning the Banning of Food Irradiation in Australia - Text Version

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The Codex Committee on Food Additives & Contaminants is a committee of the Codex Alimentarius Commission.  The C.C.F.A.C advises the Codex Alimentarius Commission in regard to food irradiation along with other food additives and contaminants.  The Codex Alimentarius Commission, a joint body of the World Health Organization and the Food & Agriculture Organization of the U.N., sets the global Standards on food safety.  These Standards effect more than 160 nations, representing about 97 percent of the world's population including Australia.

 Removal of Irradiation Dose Limit

The C.C.F.A.C has endorsed the proposal to remove the dose limit for food irradiation which, if approved, allows for foods to be irradiated to any levels internationally.  (Proposed Draft Revision to the Codex General Standard for Irradiated Foods - Agenda Item 9a (CX/FAC 01/11)).  Currently the maximum dose limit is 10 kiloGrays, equivalent to 330 million chest x-rays.

Removal of Health and Safety Standards

Under this proposed amendment virtually every assurance that irradiated food will be of good quality, be handled by trained workers, and be processed under safe and clean conditions in government inspected facilities would disappear.

"This proposal confirms that irradiation will be used to mask filthy slaughtering and food processing practices," said Wenonah Hauter, director of Public Citizen's Critical Mass Energy and Environment Program.  "These antiquated ideas set back food safety more than 100 years, to a time when people routinely died from eating contaminated food.  It is an outrage of the highest order.  People throughout the world have cause for great worry."

Australia is a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO).  If ANZFA approves food irradiation and the Codex endorsed proposal is adopted, other WTO member countries with lower food health and safety standards, and lower radiation safety standards, could challenge those of Australia by claiming they are barriers to trade.  If the Dispute Settlement Body of the WTO agrees, Australia would be forced to lower its standards or face trade sanctions.

The proposal would amend the Codex's 22 year old food irradiation standard by stating that food companies "should" rather than "shall" comply with the Standards.  Many of the changes were proposed without any advance notice and approved at meetings that were closed to the public.

Under the looser standards, irradiated food would no longer have to be:

-    "of suitable quality"

-    in "acceptable hygienic condition", or

-   "handled .. according to good manufacturing practices."  

Additionally, food irradiation facilities would no longer have to:

-    comply with "safety" and "good hygiene practices";

-    be staffed by "adequate, trained and competent personnel";

-    be licensed or inspected by government officials;

-    or maintain certain records on radioactive activities.

Also, food irradiation would no longer have to be carried out "commensurate with ...... technological and public health purposes" or conducted "in accordance with good radiation processing practice".

These changes would place Australian food and nuclear safety regulations at great risk.  Among them are ANZFA, who regulates Australia's food health and safety Standards;  also the Radiation Safety Act 1999, administered by the Queensland Department of Health (under which Steritech's proposed radiation facility falls). 

The Codex Alimentarius Commission meets in Geneva July 2-7, 2001 and the proposal is expected to be further debated at that time.


The above information has been provided by Public Citizen's CMEP.  Contact:  Mark Worth e-mail:
or phone
202 454 5123 (U.S.A.)

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Page last updated Monday, 02 April 2001 12:22:54 AM
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