A bill to regulate the sale of irradiated foods in New Jersey was strongly opposed by the National Food Processors Association (NFPA) at a hearing held on June 19 by the State Assembly's Consumer Affairs and Regulated Professions Committee.

"NFPA and the food industry support food irradiation as a safe and effective technology that benefits consumers by enhancing the safety of the U.S. food supply," said Dr. Jeffrey Barach, NFPA's Vice President of Special Projects, in testimony delivered at the Committee hearing. "We support legislation that is scientifically justified. This bill is not."

The bill -- A2583 -- would prohibit the sale and distribution of irradiated food products in the state of New Jersey for a period of five years.

"The safety of food irradiation has been well documented," Dr. Barach noted. "Food irradiation is a safe, simple and relatively inexpensive process which has been available since the 1950s to kill harmful pathogens in many foods and to enhance their shelf life. A wealth of scientific evidence exists that strongly supports the safety of food irradiation."

Dr. Barach pointed out that "Authoritative scientific bodies ranging from the World Health Organization to the American Medical Association -- as well as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) -- agree that food irradiation presents no health risk to consumers. More than 35 countries have approved irradiation as a safe food treatment technology. It is NFPA's strong belief that the safety concerns associated with food irradiation have more than adequately been put to rest -- and its value as a food safety tool has been well established."

Dr. Barach stated that "FDA and USDA oversee the safety of food irradiation for all U.S. consumers. There is no need for stand-alone legislation by the New Jersey Assembly to address this issue. In NFPA's views, this legislation would deny New Jersey's citizens of the strong food safety benefits of this important technology. For this reason, we strongly oppose the bill, and urge the New Jersey Assembly to do likewise."

NFPA is the voice of the $460 billion food processing industry on scientific and public policy issues involving food safety, nutrition, technical and regulatory matters and consumer affairs. For more information on this issue, contact Timothy Willard, NFPA's Vice President of Communications, at 202-637-8060, or visit NFPA's Website at www.nfpa-food.org.