FDA Approves Irradiation of Spinach, Lettuce

Practice common in meat coming soon to produce aisle
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 21, 2008 3:47 PM CDT
A farmer cuts spinach in a hydroponic farm.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Consumers worried about salad safety may soon be able to buy fresh spinach and iceberg lettuce zapped with just enough radiation to kill E. coli and a few other germs. The Food and Drug Administration will issue a new regulation tomorrow allowing spinach- and lettuce-sellers to take that extra step, a long-awaited move amid increasing outbreaks from raw produce.  

Irradiated meat has been around for years, particularly ground beef that is a favorite hiding spot for E. coli. Spices also can be irradiated. But the Grocery Manufacturers Association had petitioned the FDA to allow a list of fresh produce and other foods to be irradiated as well, starting with leafy greens that have sparked numerous recent outbreaks, including one of E. coli in spinach in 2006.