Not too long ago, the Food Standards of Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ) approved the sales of irradiated tomatoes in supermarkets throughout the country.
Radiation Used to Protect Crops
The process which is used to destroy insects that can decimate produce has been approved by a number of other food safety groups. It doesn’t make use of any type of pesticide and it uses such a small amount of radiation that no traces are left behind. By most, the process is considered to be safe and the sale of irradiated tomatoes is waiting for final approval from Nikki Kaye, the Australian Food Safety Minister.
Several groups are raising concerns about the safety of the produce and are requesting that they either be removed from the grocery store shelves or labelled in some way. However, there is a question as to whether there are actual concerns about food safety or about a rivalry between Australian and New Zealander growers.
The Trans-Tasman Rivarly
It is common knowledge that there is a strong trans-Tasman rivalry with arguments over who actually grows the best produce. Some worry that the whole cause for concern over irradiated tomatoes isn’t about the safety of the foods. They worry that groups are raising complaints simply to stop importing of produce between the two countries. In fact, several groups have commented that they would not eat a tomato grown in New Zealand if they are from Australia and vice-versa.
If the delay in providing irradiated tomatoes is due simply to a rivalry, this could cause a problem for the consumer. Group leads could be providing information that frightens consumers who may avoid shopping at local supermarkets because they think irradiated tomatoes are dangerous. However, numerous studies show there is no cause for concern over the produce.
Fruit flies are a continuing problem in Australia and New Zealand and they often can destroy whole crops of food. Because of this, farmers are constantly looking for ways to stop the insects. It has been proven that pesticides are dangerous for human consumption when sprayed on the plants' surfaces. Irradiation doesn’t leave any type of residue on the foods, making them much safer for consumption.
The likely resolution to the constant concern between two differing opinions is to label all tomatoes that have been irradiated. Tomatoes are expected to be allowed in supermarkets very soon, but they could contain information declaring where they came from and what processes were used to protect them against insect decimation.