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Health Canada calls for comments on ground beef irradiation

By staff reporter , 21-Jun-2016
Last updated on 21-Jun-2016 at 21:36 GMT2016-06-21T21:36:21Z

Consultation on permitting irradiation of ground beef launched

Health Canada is to consult on a proposal that would allow irradiation of fresh and frozen ground beef.

The agency said that ground beef treated with irradiation is safe to eat and retains its nutritional value, taste, texture and appearance.

Levels of irradiation for fresh and frozen raw ground beef are at the maximum absorbed doses of 4.5 kGy and 7.0 kGy, respectively.

The consultation period ends on September 1 .

Irradiation is meant to complement, not replace, existing food safety processing standards and practices, such as appropriate handling, sanitation and storage. 

It is approved already to treat potatoes, onions, wheat, flour, spices and seasoning preparations.

Health and safety authorities in 60 countries have approved irradiation on 40 different food classes which include spices, grain, boneless chicken, red meats, fruits and vegetables.

The European Union has only authorized irradiation of "dried aromatic herbs, spices and vegetable seasonings."

However, member states have clearances of their own, with France being the most permissive and the Netherlands also authorizing foods for irradiation, including dried fruits, pulses, dehydrated vegetables, flakes from cereals, herbs, spices, shrimps, poultry, frog legs, gum arabic, food additives, flavourings and egg products.

All irradiated foods must be clearly labelled. Packages must display a written description and a symbol, the Radura.

The technique can reduce the level of bacteria such as E. coli, Salmonella and Campylobacter and can prevent premature spoilage and increase shelf life.

Three different types of ionizing radiation can be used on foods sold in Canada; gamma rays, electron beam and x-rays.

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