An article in the New England Journal of Medicine, which was written by Dr. Dennis Maki, underscores the importance of the use of irradiation technology as a measure to improve food safety. posted about Dr. Maki’s article today, and highlighted arguments made by Dr. Maki, who pointed out some important issues surrounding foodborne illness that could possibly be solved through the use of irradiation:

But the problem of food-borne illness extends beyond the widely publicized mass outbreaks. Magi said that during each day of the spinach E. coli outbreak, ‘there were at least 5 to 10 times as many cases of endemic Shiga toxin-producing E. coli infection throughout the country as there were outbreak cases.’

Agencies charged with food safety — the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) — have ratcheted up their surveillance efforts. But after some initial success, the rate of decline in food-borne illness has leveled off over the last decade, according to Maki.