editorial -- December 15, 1997
Mr. Happy Comes to Dinner
Shh! Don't tell anyone the good news! The FDA's recent decision to allow beef irradiation might lead to fewer cases of food poisoning in the United States. If you're one of the many people who have spent post-meal hours praying to the porcelain god, you know that food poisoning is far too common of a problem.

The FDA's two year beef irradiation trial could give us a cheap and effective method of eliminating contamination risks in the case of prepared hamburgers. Unfortunately, approval by the FDA's rigid and lumbering bureaucracy is the easy part. Now irradiation must be approved by a paranoid and scientifically ignorant public. That's why we have to keep this between you and me. I'm not suggesting that irradiated products be hidden from consumers -- just that they be presented in a manner in which an idiotic public can hope to understand.

"Irradiation" sounds too scary. Let's call it "Mr. Happy." Better, huh? Let's label that WhopperTM wrapper with "Sterilized for your protection by Mr. Happy." Of course, the first time one of these hamburgers is sold, Ralph Nader and all his granola-freak friends will pop out of the woodwork and scream that the sky is falling. With a little luck, though, the public won't hear. Maybe O.J. will return to dominate the media. Maybe Diane Sawyer will be too busy reporting the re-incarnation of Princess Di. Maybe, just maybe, we can slip this one by -- and save hundreds of lives in the process.