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Consumer Reports reportedly has analyzed more than 500 packages of irradiated beef purchased from supermarkets in more than 60 cities in eight states, and concluded that it provides consumers with only slightly more protection against food-borne illness than no treatment at all, with bacteria levels reduced but not completely eliminated.

The consumer magazine also says that irradiation often gives hamburger and chicken ''a slightly scorched taste and a smell reminiscent of singed hair.''

While Consumer Reports says that irradiation is safe, it also says that anyone who cooks their meat thoroughly has no reason to buy it.

After years of being almost unmentionable, irradiation has become much more accepted over the past year or so, especially as food-borne illness has become a greater problem, and food security a higher priority.
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