October 7, 2009

BUREAUCRACY OR IRRADIATION: Which should you trust more? “My heart goes out to Stephanie Smith, a young woman who became paralyzed after eating a hamburger contaminated with the virulent strain of E. coli known as O157:H7. Her sad story was featured on the front page of the Sunday New York Times and is supposed to illustrate the need for more government food safety regulation. I read the story waiting for the reporter to write about another low-cost solution to the problem of bacterial contamination in food. It never came. What solution? Irradiation. That is, treating foods with gamma, electron beam or X-ray radiation to kill bacteria that might be found on food before it is offered to the consumer. It is no more dangerous than pasteurization of milk and would prevent tens of thousands of food poisoning episodes if widely adopted.”

But it provides no opportunities for graft or control.

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