Wednesday, Dec. 10, 1997 | 3:07 a.m.
Ironically, irradiation does not protect consumers from contaminated meat. It kills only selected pathogens, only those present at the time, and only up to a certain depth. It does nothing to hardy pathogens like the hepatitis virus, or to those inside a large meat slab, or to those added during subsequent processing.
Moreover, the process involves highly hazardous radiation sources like cobalt 60. Yet, it will be performed by slaughterhouse personnel, our country's most uneducated, endangered and underpaid workers. It's a public safety disaster waiting to happen.
Most consumers oppose food irradiation. They are not likely to be swayed by FDA's political decision. Their massive switch from contaminated meat to wholesome grains, vegetables and fresh fruits will continue.