Australia's food standards authority is investigating whether the federal government should consider changing labelling requirements for irradiated food.
Food Standards Australia New Zealand has called for stakeholder and public submissions as to whether companies distributing irradiated food, which has been exposed to ionising radiation for preservation, disease elimination or pest reduction, should still be forced to explicitly label their products.
The practice, which numerous international health bodies have described as safe and effective, is not widespread in Australia, limited mainly to some types of mango.
The current code requires all foods treated through radiation or containing irradiated ingredients to be labelled with a statement informing people about the practice.
However, there is no uniform statement, meaning a distributor can label a product with any phrase as long as it informs buyers the food is irradiated.
The review was recommended by an independent food labelling report in 2011, with the governments of both countries asking Food Standards Australia New Zealand whether mandatory labelling needed to continue.
The authority was also asked to assess whether more effective ways of communicating the safety and benefits of irradiation to the general public.
But some consumer and environmental groups have called for tighter requirements, restricting companies from including references about the benefits of irradiation when labelling their products.
In a consultation paper distributed as part of the public consultation, Food Standards Australia New Zealand found the labelling of food across the Tasman as "irradiated to protect the New Zealand environment" was seen by some advocates as promoting, rather than informing, the public about the practice.
Friends of the Earth is among the most vocal critics of the practice, calling for the replacement of irradiation with natural means of pest control.
A spin-off website, Food Irradiation Watch called on all members to email ministers about the practice and make submissions to the review, claiming "our governments want to remove the present requirement to label so you are ignorant of irradiated foods and their impacts".
The review will not change the maximum permitted dosage of irradiation in Australia and New Zealand, nor the list of 24 fruits and vegetables for which the practice is allowed.
Submitters were asked in the consultation paper about consumers' understanding of irradiation, whether they would purchase irradiated food, their thoughts on the lack of a prescribed statement and whether labelling requirements should be removed.
Public and stakeholder submissions to Food Standards Australia New Zealand's review of labelling codes close on Tuesday evening.