FDA researchers subsequently discovered even higher levels of furan in a wide variety of heat-processed foods, including baby food, Pauli reported. Those findings are under review by the FDA's Food Advisory Committee and Dietary Supplements Subcommittee.

Meanwhile, the commercial landscape for food irradiation remains grim. According to Marshall Cleland, head of Ion Beam Applications, the firm's Bridgeport, N.J., facility, which was built exclusively to irradiate food products, is devoting all of its production time to screening Congressional and White House mail for anthrax. Surebeam Corp., the San Diego spin-off of Titan Corp. that operated irradiation facilities in Los Angeles, suburban Chicago and Sioux City, Ia., entered Chapter 7 bankruptcy liquidation early this year.