Irradiated ground beef, in particular, has garnered significant national attention and become widely available since USDA approved a red meat irradiation
protocol in late 1999 and was first introduced commercially in May 2000.
USDA will accept comments on meat irradiation
The goal of meat irradiation
is not to extend the shelf life, since frozen food products already have a long shelf life, but to provide a safe food product.
The publicity surrounding such food safety outbreaks has put the spotlight on meat irradiation
. The CDC has made its position on the topic clear: "Treating raw meat and poultry with irradiation at the slaughter plant could eliminate bacteria commonly found on raw meat and raw poultry, such as E.
Irradiation has already been employed in 39 countries, and in December 1999 the USDA finally approved rules for meat irradiation
in the United States.
Space-aged as the practice may sound, irradiation of food for extending shelf life was first demonstrated in 1900, by Samuel Prescott at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the first patents for meat irradiation
were awarded in the 1920s.
FDA approved red meat irradiation
as safe in 1997 and USDA regulations became effective this year.
The rule also revised regulations for irradiation of poultry to make them consistent with the meat irradiation
On the day that the FDA announced approval of red meat irradiation
, the world's largest provider of food irradiation technology, Ottawa-based MDS Nordion, issued a press release calling on Canadian regulators to follow suit.
Following USDA's approval of a red meat irradiation
protocol on Dec.
Another group, Food Safety Consortium, also wants the federal government to expand its proposal to allow meat irradiation
to include ready-to-cat products like hot dogs and luncheon meats.
"Now it's a huge problem around the world," Rifkin says, adding that meat irradiation
"is a classic example of not dealing with the primary cause, which is the factory farming system.