Food (Safety) Fight
By: richard raymond

Irradiation revisited

Source of Article:

(The views and opinions expressed in this blog are strictly those of the author.)

For too many people the irradiation of beef remains controversial, and the science unclear. I wrote a blog several weeks ago regarding whole carcass, low dose, irradiation for beef. In that blog I asked FSIS and the consumer advocates to respond, letting us know were we stood on this issue following a public meeting seeking comments held in Washington, DC, on Sept 18, 2008. Nada so far. The complete transcript of the meeting can be accessed here:

Dr. Marsden, in a recent blog, also referenced this processing aid as an important next step and also created controversy. So I thought I would try and clarify this next step as opposed to current irradiation practices designed to make beef safer.

E-beam ionizing irradiation of ground beef, which several companies due routinely, is considered by the FDA to be an additive. This treatment must penetrate through all the meat to guarantee sterility. By FDA rules and regs, all additives must be listed on the labeling, and in this case, the radura symbol indicating radiation use must be applied.

AMI has petitioned USDA to allow whole carcass, low dose irradiation of beef to be categorized as a processing aid, not an additive. Processing aids, by FDA definition, do not need to be listed on the label. Hence a major part of the controversy. This process would not be a penetrating e-beam, but only a superficial treatment of the carcass, similar to an acid rinse. The meat we eat would not be affected by this processing aid, but the carcass, after treatment, would either have no E coli, or a much lower count of E coli that would then be more likely to be eliminated by other interventions currently used as a routine processing aid. And as a result, we would have much less chance of contaminated trim going into ground beef. The transcript of the Sept 18, 2008, meeting will provide the research involving this treatment and the opposition's concerns.  

Two issues raised in September that still need resolution are whether this treatment would eliminate the "organic" label, and whether FDA would go along with the "processing aid" categorization vs "additive". They were asked for their opinion some time before the September meeting, but had not responded definitively by that time. I do not know what has transpired since then.

 Maybe someone reading this blog can fill me in?


8/17/2009 4:54 PM 





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