25. "Army Still Plugging for FDA Approval of Irradiated Meat"

After 25 years and 51 million dollars, the U.S. Army is still trying to introduce irradiated meat into use by the military.

This method of preserving meats may have seemed satisfactory in 1953, but in 1958 the Food and Drug Additives Law was passed. This meant that the army would be responsible for proving the safety of their meats since irradiation changes the "character" of the food. Shortly after this the Delaney Amendment was passed, further complicating the situation for the army. It was found that irradiation forms minute proportions of carcinogens.

Nonetheless, the army did manage to get FDA approval of irradiated bacon in 1963. Then, in 1968, the approval was rescinded since the proof of safety was found to be based on studies going as far back as the 1920's. At this point, the army hastily withdrew a petition for approval or irradiated ham since it was based upon the same data as the bacon.

Then, in 1971, the largest project, on beef, was contracted to Industrial Bio-Test Laboratories in Northbrook, Illinois. By 1977, the Army had lost 4 million dollars and still had no conclusive results.

Ari Brynjolfsson, chief of the food irradiation project, says, "irradiated foods can play a very big role for the army, civilians, and the world." He claims that it is the only hope of the third world countries.

Conversely, commercial food manufacturers have not been interested since the process would have to be identified on the label. They feel this might deter consumers from buying the product.

The failure of the media to publicize this massive boondoggle by the U.S. Army to use irradiated meat for the military, and possibly others, qualifies this story for nomination as one of the "best censored" stories of 1978.

SOURCE:

Science, November 3, 1978, p. 500, "Army Still Plugging for FDA Approval of Irradiated Meat," by Constance Holden.