In the absence of effective consumer education, US consumers may remain averse to irradiated foods, say authors of a new report by the US Department of Agriculture's Economic Research Service. Despite scientific consensus and government approval of irradiation to kill disease-causing organisms in raw meat, a survey shows only half of the adult respondents willing to buy irradiated ground beef or chicken and only a fourth were willing to pay higher prices for them.The findings suggest the benefits of food irradiation for public health will be missed unless consumer preferences change, the report concluded. Unless government or industry make an organised, nation-wide effort to educate consumers, their attitudes toward food irradiation instead might be shaped by opponents of irradiation, the study suggested. Another survey found only 48% of adults had heard of food irradiation, suggesting public knowledge remained low despite a recent increase in news about it.The report, "Consumer Acceptance of Irradiated Meat and Poultry Products," is available on the Web at: