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Nuked nuts is nuts: Qld Senator urges opposition to food irradiation application.

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Senator Andrew Bartlett Australian Democrat Senator for Queensland

27 July 2001 MEDIA RELEASE 01/433

Nuked nuts is nuts QLD Senator Urges Opposition to Food Irradiation Application

Democrat Senator Andrew Bartlett has urged the Australian New Zealand Food Authority (ANZFA) not to support an application for the irradiation of food.

A recently released ANZFA report suggested approval be given to nuclear irradiation company Steritech to irradiate herbs, spices and a variety of nuts at an irradiation plant proposed for Narangba, just north of Brisbane.

Senator Bartlett expressed concern about the potential health effects of using this technology on food and has called on ANZFA to deny approval.

“Giving approval would be the first step in establishing a nuclear food industry in Australia.

“Public comment on the application and ANZFA’s response closes on August 15th. I am urging members of the public who are concerned about the potential development of an irradiated food industry in Australia to make their concerns known to ANZFA.”

Senator Bartlett continued, “ANZFA is meant to be dedicated to ensuring a high standard of public health and safety yet there is a long list of serious concerns that have been raised about the possible adverse health effects of using this technology on food that are yet to be addressed.

“Irradiation of food significantly reduces its nutritional content with the depletion of vitamins, polyunsaturated fats and amino acids. This is not consistent with ANZFA’s role of ensuring a high standard of public health. Consumers should be able to assume that foods have not been stripped of nutritional value.”

“Nuts in particular are used by many people specifically for their nutritional value, especially by vegetarians.

“It is a requirement for approval that the irradiation process be necessary to improve the safety of the food. As safe alternatives are already in place, irradiation is unnecessary and therefore should not be approved,” said Senator Bartlett.

“Added to these possible health risks and nutritional concerns are the likely detrimental outcomes in terms of trade and environmental concerns relating to the development of a new nuclear based industry.

“Once Australia allows the use and export of irradiated food, we are likely to be compelled under WTO rules to accept imported irradiated food. It is hard to determine who, aside from Steritech and the international nuclear industry, would benefit from the irradiation of food. It certainly won’t be the producers or the consumers,” concluded Senator Bartlett. ENDS

For interview: Senator Bartlett on 0418 743 789 or (07) 3252 7101