Call for comment on irradiation of fruits and vegetables

Food Standards Australia New Zealand is calling for comment on an application to irradiate fresh fruit and vegetables.

FSANZ CEO Mark Booth said the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries has applied for permission to irradiate fresh fruit and vegetables as a way to stop the spread of pests like fruit fly when food is moved across quarantine borders.

“Fruit fly is an ongoing threat to the horticulture industry, both here in Australia, New Zealand and internationally.

“Australian quarantine laws mean food produced in an area where there are known pests, must be treated before they can be sent internationally or to states or territories that have quarantine restrictions.  

“Irradiation has a long history of safe use and is used in many countries around the world as a safe way to treat fresh fruits and vegetables.

“In Australia and New Zealand, food can only be irradiated for a specific purpose, like to make it safer for people to eat or for quarantine purposes.

“Only a small proportion of fresh fruit and vegetables are likely to be irradiated as the majority of fresh produce in Australia and New Zealand is grown and sold in the same quarantine jurisdiction.

“There are already 26 fruits and vegetables allowed to be irradiated in the Food Standards Code.

“We completed a thorough safety assessment for this application, looking at the potential toxicological and nutritional impacts and found no public health and safety concerns . Any nutrient losses that may occur are likely to be minimal.

“To help consumers make informed choices about the food they buy, there are labelling requirements for any food that has been irradiated,” Mr Booth said.

The public consultation period closes 6pm (Canberra time) 11 December 2020.

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