US: Is irradiation the solution to E. coli in ground beef? – Part 2
Posted: August 31st, 2009 - 5:04pm
(The views and opinions expressed in this blog are strictly those of the author.)
Given the fact that irradiation of meat and poultry has not been widely implemented, what can be done to make this potentially important food safety technology more acceptable to the industry and to consumers? Here are 10 things that would help:
1. The term "Irradiation" and the "Radura" symbol have to go!
2. FDA should distinguish Electron Beam and X-Ray forms of irradiations (that rely on electricity) from Gamma irradiation which relies on a radioactive substance like Cobalt-60. The objective would be to classify electronic sources of treatment as "Electronic Pasteurization" and as a processing aid instead of a food additive.
3. New labeling requirements should be established for "Electronic Pasteurization" (with no Radura symbol on the package).
4. FDA and USDA should conduct a risk assessment to determine the microbiological reductions necessary to assure safe raw meat and poultry products and define the requirements for "Electronic Pasteurization" accordingly.
5. Research should be funded to develop X-Ray as a technology for food pasteurization. This would allow for the "Electronic Pasteurization" of all types of meat and poultry products and still fall under the category of electronic pasteurization.
6. FDA and USDA should initiate a major consumer education initiative on the benefits of "Electronic Pasteurization".
7. FDA and USDA should remove the limitations on "Electronic Pasteurization" of Natural and
Organic foods. This application is little different than using X-ray based metal detectors.
8. Industry has to commit to the principle that "Electronic Pasteurization" cannot be used as a substitute for good sanitation. This includes maintaining the zero tolerance for fecal contamination and other physical defects on carcasses and meat products.
9. Processors should take care to assure that products are irradiated under conditions that don't promote oxidation and the development of off-flavors (i.e. treatment under vacuum or controlled atmosphere).
10. Systems need to be developed to allow for the "Electronic Pasteurization" of foods inside existing meat processing facilities. This would eliminate the logistical problems associated with transporting foods to a separate treatment facility and then back to a warehouse. It would also substantially reduce the cost of pasteurization.
In the end, if meat and poultry products treated using "Electronic Pasteurization" have a consumer friendly label and look and taste the same as untreated products, the technology will be accepted by consumers.