Canadian cattlemen seek beef irradiation

Published on: Apr 25, 2013

The Canadian Cattlemen's Assn. (CCA) announced this week that it plans to petition Health Canada to complete its process to approve irradiation of beef.

CCA first petitioned the agency for approval in 1998, but final steps were not completed.

CCA noted that the Consumers Association of Canada recently announced its support of irradiation, suggesting that this indicates that the benefits of the technology are starting to be recognized.

However, CCA said the beef industry, government, medical profession and scientists need to get involved in consumer education initiatives to explain the benefits and safety of irradiation.

Canada does permit irradiation of certain products, including onions, potatoes, flour, wheat, seasonings and spices.

Food irradiation is a food safety technology that -- like pasteurization of milk and pressure-cooked canned foods -- kills bacteria, parasites and pathogens that cause foodborne diseases, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

EPA noted that food that was prepared for NASA astronauts was irradiated to avoid the possibility of foodborne illness in space.

In the U.S., irradiation is approved for a number of foods, including herbs and spices, fresh fruits and vegetables, flour, wheat, beef, pork and poultry.

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration requires that irradiated foods display the irradiation logo, called the Radura, and the words "Treated with Radiation" or "Treated by Irradiation."

EPA emphasized that irradiation does not make food radioactive.