• Decrease font size
  • Return font size to normal
  • Increase font size
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Science & Research

  • Print
  • Share
  • E-mail

Volume IV - 12.1 Introduction

DFS Pyramid Logo

Orientation and Training

Food and Drug Administration


Section 12 - Radioactivity

EFFECTIVE DATE: 10-01-03 REVISED: 02-14-13

FDA’s Winchester Engineering and Analytical Center specializes in radioactivity analyses. 

FDA has monitored radionuclides as part of its food safety efforts for over fifty years.

The Public’s concern about health risks due to radionuclide contamination has increased as a result of the nuclear accidents at Three Mile Island (March, 1979) and Chernobyl (April, 1986) and (Fukushima, April 2011).  FDA’s Center for Safety and Applied Nutrition coordinates and oversees several food programs.  The Radionuclides in Foods program includes a domestic program – samples collected near nuclear power plans and the total diet program;  an import program - import foods collected from countries most likely to have food products with radionuclide contamination.

The “Total Diet Study” (TDS) was initiated in the early 1960s to monitor possible contamination of foods by radionuclides resulting from atmospheric nuclear tests.  The foods tested in the program represent the general US food supply and the American diet. 

FDA’s Center for Drug and Evaluation coordinate the radiopharmaceutical program.
Radiopharmaceuticals are an extension of the Pharmaceutical Program.  USP as well as NDA/ANDA methodology is utilized to indicate conformance to specifications.

Though atmospheric nuclear tests are now rare and are banned by many countries, other potential sources of radionuclide contamination exist.  WEAC maintains readiness for Radiological Emergency Response for foods, drugs and medical devices.  WEAC will provide analytical testing as well as personnel dosimetry badges and monitoring.