The Food and Drug Administration's recent action saying irradiation labels on food need not be unusually conspicuous was nothing more than an appetizer before the U.S. Department of Agriculture serves up the main course-a proposed rule-that is likely to set off a political food fight. It is the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) that has the final word on meat and poultry packaging including how irradiation labels are worded. A proposed rule from the FSIS setting the parameters for irradiation of red meat including any packaging restrictions or requirements was due out at press time. Many major food industry associations want the FSIS to do away entirely with the requirement for irradiation disclosure including any need to use a radura logo. The FDA's final rule on August 17 was a side dish of sorts. It said that companies which irradiate food do not have to disclose that fact on the food label any more prominently than the identity of the ingredients in the food. There was nothing surprising about that edict. It had been required under a provision included in the FDA Modernization Act (FDAMA) that jumbo catch-all piece of legislation Congress passed in the fall of 1997. FDAMA contained a provision saying the FDA could not require "a separate radiation disclosure statement that is more prominent than the declaration of ingredients..." Irradiation of poultry and fruits is already legal. Current FDA rules require use of the radura logo and a statement of "Treated by irradiation" or "Treated with radiation." Those words have to be "prominent and conspicuous" although the FDA does not specify type size.