Government deception on food irradiation

“I began to question everything, especially those things Australians claimed to know about Australia. We had just walked through a field of harvest, but a field where the harvesters had been discouraged from their labour 170 years ago. Discouraged by murder.”
― Bruce Pascoe, Salt: Selected Essays and Stories

We post this information about food irradiation where the Queensland Labor government has given carte blanche approval for food irradiation. We have three major concerns about this approval.

  1. What about the workers exposed to radioactive materials (Cobalt 60 nuclear fuel rods or from high energy X-rays) used to irradiate fruit and vegetables. We note the following from the approval report:

    “Matters concerning minimising the risks of human exposure to unsafe levels of radiation generally, potential risks to the environment, and occupational health and safety risks to workers, are outside Food Irradiation standards (FSANZ)’s statutory remit.”
  2. The profit motive – the food retail companies involved are attempting to extend the shelf life of the food so that they can reap greater profit. These companies (eg Coles & Woolworths) care naught about the farmers who produce the food as these monopolies set the price from the farm gate on a ‘take it or leave it‘ basis.
  3. The nuclear industry uses food irradiation as the nuclear face of its underlying commitment to the military industrial complex. The Cobalt 60 used at the food irradiation plant at Deception Bay is made in nuclear reactors in Canada. These materials are transport on roads operated by the state Labor government despite its commitment to a nuclear free policy.

It is a shame that the most recent state Labor ministers, Yvette D’Arth and Mark Furner, provided Steritech with an approval, (seemingly on a sheet of paper that was blank except for a signature and given by them to write in what they please). They also ignored the Beattie Labor government’s sale of public land to the sole nuclear irradiation plant in Australia at Deception Bay (sometimes referred to as Narrangba), owned and operated by Steritech.

For those interested in a more in depth coverage of our concerns you can listen to a radio program I broadcast on 4ZZZ earlier in the year. At that time, I was concerned about the lack of democratic consultation by the relevant ministers and local members in the ALP government on this issue. People should know what they are signing up for when they buy food at the local supermarket.

No satisfactory solution has been found by industry or government concerning nuclear waste disposal.

Ian Curr
Editor WBT
8 June 2021


You may be aware that there has been an application by the Queensland Government to FSANZ for a permit for the irradiation of ALL FRESH FRUIT AND VEGETABLES.


It is  an independent agency that regulates the use of ingredients in our food and includes food developed by new technologies like genetically modified food. They are responsible for food labelling.


 It is exposure to high doses of ionising radiation- gamma rays from Cobalt 60 nuclear fuel rods or from high energy X-rays


Because it extends shelf-life of irradiated foods that makes them appear fresh when they are not.


 Is set by ministers in charge of food regulation ..the “Australian and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food regulation.” which develops policy and guidelines for FSANZ.

In May FSANZ has met to make a decision on this application.

Who is up for further campaigning to stem this destructive tide?

The following letter can be sent to your local supermarket.


What is your supermarket/brand’s policy on stocking and selling ‘fresh’ irradiated fruits and vegetables?

What specific steps will you take to provide accessible, legible and clear labels and signage on or near all irradiated fruits and vegetables?

Will you commit to displaying obvious, legible and clear labels on all irradiated produce to augment any tiny on-product stickers that are not obvious, readable or clear?

Will irradiated produce be displayed and sold in the same section of your stores as un-irradiated fresh fruits and vegetables?

Will you take steps to make the distinction between irradiated and un-irradiated fruits and vegetables clear to customers?

Please consider whether selling irradiated fruits and vegetables in your “fresh” produce section may mislead or deceive shoppers about their freshness, as phytosanitary irradiation also extends shelf life?

Would you consider declaring your supermarkets food irradiation-free, to create a marketing advantage?

Please answer our questions and engage with us, to explore and develop open, honest and robust policies on important food irradiation issues.

Yours sincerely

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