The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has issued an April 6, 2011, statement on food irradiation that summarizes the 2010 scientific opinions adopted by the Panel on Biological Hazards and the Panel on Food Contact Materials, Enzymes, Flavorings and Processing Aids, which together assessed the procedure’s efficacy and safety. Using the latest available evidence, these panels have evidently concluded “that there are no microbiological risks for the consumer linked to the use of food irradiation,” and “that most of the substances formed in food by irradiation are also formed during other types of food processing, with levels comparable to those arising, for instance, from the heat treatment of foods.”

According to EFSA, “only a very limited quantity of food consumed in Europe is irradiated,” a practice considered part of “an integrated food safety management program… that includes good agricultural, manufacturing and hygienic practices.” Still, panel experts have recommended that “decisions on foods which can be irradiated and on the doses used should not be based only on predefined food categories, as is currently the case, but also on factors such as: the bacteria concerned, the level of bacterial reduction required, whether the food is fresh, frozen, dried, or on the food’s fat or protein content.” They have also warned that decisions about irradiation should also account for “the diversity of food products nowadays available to consumers such as ready-toeat foods.” See EFSA News Story, April 6, 2011.