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# The irradiation of food kills bacteria and thus retards spoilage

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24 Jan 2018, 07:00
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85% (hard)

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47% (02:01) correct 53% (02:11) wrong based on 395 sessions

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Which of the following most logically completes the argument?

The irradiation of food kills bacteria and thus retards spoilage. However, it also lowers the nutritional value of many foods. For example, irradiation destroys a significant percentage of whatever vitamin B1 a food may contain. Proponents of irradiation point out that irradiation is no worse in this respect than cooking. However, this fact is either beside the point, since much irradiated food is eaten raw, or else misleading, since ___________.

(A) many of the proponents of irradiation are food distributors who gain from food’s having a longer shelf life

(B) it is clear that killing bacteria that may be present on food is not the only effect that irradiation has

(C) cooking is usually the final step in preparing food for consumption, whereas irradiation serves to ensure a longer shelf life for perishable foods

(D) certain kinds of cooking are, in fact, even more destructive of vitamin B1 than carefully controlled irradiation is

(E) for food that is both irradiated and cooked, the reduction of vitamin B1 associated with either process individually is compounded

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Re: The irradiation of food kills bacteria and thus retards spoilage  [#permalink]

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26 Jan 2018, 00:30
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Proponents of irradiation point out that irradiation is no worse than cooking when it comes to lowering the nutritional value of food. However, the author concludes that this fact is either beside the point or misleading.

The author explains that this fact can be beside the point since much irradiated food is eaten raw. Take raw vegetables for example:

• A proponent of irradiation might say, "Yes, irradiating the vegetables will lower the nutritional value. However, cooking the vegetables would have the same effect, so who cares?" In other words, if you are going to cook your food anyway, you are going to lower the nutritional value by the same amount that irradiation would lower it.
• But what if you eat most of your vegetables raw (without cooking them)? In that case, you'd either be eating irradiated vegetables with lower nutritional value or non-irradiated vegetables with higher nutritional value (though more susceptible to spoilage).
• Thus, the fact that cooking and irradiating have the same effect would be "beside the point" and wouldn't make you feel any better if you were concerned about nutrition.

The author does not, however, explain how that fact could be misleading. Given the structure of the sentence, we are likely looking for an answer choice that shows how the proponents' claim (that irradiation is no worse than cooking when it comes to lowering the nutritional value of food) could be misleading:

Quote:
(A) many of the proponents of irradiation are food distributors who gain from food’s having a longer shelf life

Choice (A) explains why the proponents might be motivated to defend irradiation. This might explain why the proponents would make a misleading statement, but it does not explain why the statement is in fact misleading. Eliminate (A).

Quote:
(B) it is clear that killing bacteria that may be present on food is not the only effect that irradiation has

We need to specifically address the claim that irradiation is no worse than cooking when it comes to lowering the nutritional value of food. Choice (B) might suggest that irradiation could have other adverse effects. Regardless, we need to show how the proponents' claim is misleading. Choice (B) does not help and can be eliminated.

Quote:
(C) cooking is usually the final step in preparing food for consumption, whereas irradiation serves to ensure a longer shelf life for perishable foods

Quote:
(D) certain kinds of cooking are, in fact, even more destructive of vitamin B1 than carefully controlled irradiation is

This fact is already implied in the passage: "Proponents of irradiation point out that irradiation is no worse in this respect than cooking." The author does not dispute that cooking can be worse. In fact, the author's wording suggests that cooking usually is worse. Choice (D) simply strengthens the point made by the proponents, and that's not what we are looking for. We need something that explains why the proponents' claim is misleading. Eliminate (D).

Quote:
(E) for food that is both irradiated and cooked, the reduction of vitamin B1 associated with either process individually is compounded

Remember the first bullet point above: "Proponents of irradiation point out that irradiation is no worse in this respect than cooking." So if irradiating your food lowers the nutritional value by some amount and cooking your food lowers the nutritional value by approximately the same amount, why worry about irradiation? If you are going to cook your food, you are going to lower the nutritional value by that amount anyway, so don't worry about the effect of irradiation.

But what if each process INDEPENDENTLY lowers the nutritional value by that amount? In other words, if irradiating your food lowers the nutritional value by some amount, a proponent might say, "Well, cooking the food would have lowered the nutrition by that amount anyway, so who cares?" But what if cooking that irradiated food FURTHER lowers the nutritional value? Now you have lost TWICE as much nutrition as you would have with only one of those processes.

If each process could only lower the nutritional value to some level but not any further, then the proponents' argument would hold. For example, if we've already lowered the nutrition with irradiation, perhaps cooking won't lower it any further. Choice (E) tells us that this is not the case. If we've already lowered the nutritional value with irradiation, cooking will STILL lower the nutritional value even further (by approximately the same amount). Thus, we have compounded the problem, and, from a nutritional perspective, we would have been better off without irradiation.

Choice (E) explains how the proponents claim can be misleading, so it is the best answer.
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##### General Discussion
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Re: The irradiation of food kills bacteria and thus retards spoilage  [#permalink]

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24 Jan 2018, 10:46
The tone of the last sentence is negative. So, we have to look for an answer choice that states a negative aspect about irradiation.

(A) many of the proponents of irradiation are food distributors who gain from food’s having a longer shelf life - Irrelevant

(B) it is clear that killing bacteria that may be present on food is not the only effect that irradiation has - Opposite.

(C) cooking is usually the final step in preparing food for consumption, whereas irradiation serves to ensure a longer shelf life for perishable foods - Opposite.

(D) certain kinds of cooking are, in fact, even more destructive of vitamin B1 than carefully controlled irradiation is - Irrelevant

(E) for food that is both irradiated and cooked, the reduction of vitamin B1 associated with either process individually is compounded - Correct

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Re: The irradiation of food kills bacteria and thus retards spoilage  [#permalink]

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26 Jan 2018, 09:18
+1 for option E. My take:

This question asks us to complete the argument. The argument says that irradiation kills bacteria and retards spoilage. There is a disadvantage however associated with this method i.e. Vitamin B1 getting destroyed. Proponents claim that no worse than cooking in this regard. i.e, cooking is similar to irradiation or even worse. The author however feels that the aforementioned point is either beside the point or misleading. Why is it misleading ? The answer to this question lies in the correct answer option.

Pre-think :

Think of an option that proves that the proponent's stand is misleading.

POE :

Option a: Irrelevant
Option b : Goes against the "misleading direction !"
Option c : We are not concerned about the shelf life
Option e : Convoluted looking choice .. but look at it. It says that if you both cook and irradiate the food , reduction in B1 associated with either process is compounded. This makes the proponents statement appear misleading. Hence this is close to our line of reasoning.

Hence option E is the correct answer.
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Re: The irradiation of food kills bacteria and thus retards spoilage &nbs [#permalink] 26 Jan 2018, 09:18
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