Food Irradiation Updates

Published by Ronald F. Eustice on behalf of the Food Irradiation Processing Alliance (FIPA) and the International Irradiation Association (iiA).
March  2013
The following is reprinted from page 13 of the January 2013 issue of the International Atomic Energy newsletter: "It was further noted that food irradiation is strongly supported by the IAEA as a proven and effective postharvest treatment to improve food safety and maintain
quality through the reduction of bacterial contamination and for the control of insect pests in agricultural commodities, without the need for chemicals or additives.
The panellists noted that food irradiation is one of the
few technologies which address both food quality and
safety and supported food irradiation as a safe and valuable
technology. Applications of food irradiation for sanitary
(human health) and phytosanitary (plant health) purposes
helps to ensure food safety and quality and facilitate
international trade while at the same time generating
significant foreign exchange through the import and export
of foodstuffs worldwide."
Ronald F. Eustice is a food quality & safety assurance consultant based in Minneapolis. He can be reached at: and at 612.202.1016.
Irradiation site being built on Gulf Coast
Beef industry pushes for irradiation to kill harmful bacteria
Salmonella in Lymph Nodes: Is the Beef Industry heading for the Perfect Storm?
Salmonella risks in beef lymph nodes
Salmonella infections linked to Foster Farms
The surprising foods that make people sick
Foodborne Pathogens and Disease
Science denial is the province of the right wing. Right? Wrong!
Irradiation site being built on Gulf Coast; By Coral Beach; The Packer;
(February 13, 2013):
GULFPORT, MISSISSIPPI: Importers could have an additional option for phytosanitary treatment of fresh produce this spring at the Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport, easing logistics and decreasing costs, particularly for mangoes from Pakistan.

Now many mangoes from Pakistan are routed from their port of entry to the Sadex Corp. facility in Sioux City, Iowa, for irradiation before they can be distributed across the U.S.

Frank Benso, president of Gateway America, said with the installation of a Genesis II cobalt-60 irradiation machine at Gulfport importers will be able to save time and money. The project was recently completed, and Benso said he is working on final certification from the Animal and Plant Inspection Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Beef industry pushes for irradiation to kill harmful bacteria; Vancouver Sun;By Randy Shore (February 21, 2013):  

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA: In the wake of recent meat recalls, efforts to win federal approval for food irradiation are gaining new traction.

The Canadian Cattlemen's Association is preparing to resubmit an application to Health Canada to allow ground beef to be irradiated in Canada, 10 years after the last application stalled in the bureaucracy.

The application - expected in March - will include a review of the latest science on irradiation and a new opinion poll, according to Rob McNabb, general manager of operations for the Cattlemen.

The Canadian Meat Council, an industry advocacy and marketing association, wrote a letter to Health Canada in December urging approval of that application.

Read more here...
Salmonella and lymph nodes: The biggest challenge the beef industry has ever faced; James Marsden;; (February 17, 2013): 
Is the beef industry heading for a perfect storm in which Salmonella is declared as an adulterant without available solutions?
One of the highlights of the recent MeatExpo'13 meeting was a roundtable discussion on the issue of Salmonella and beef. The participants included FSIS Administrator Al Almanza, Washington, D.C. Attorney, Robert Hibbert, Texas Tech University Professor, Guy Loneragan, Center for Science in the Public Interest Senior Staff Attorney, David Plunkett, IEH Labs Meat Division CEO Mohammad Koohmaraie and myself.

There were three major takeaways from the roundtable:
1. Salmonella contamination associated with the slaughter process has likely decreased due to the widespread implementation of interventions for controlling E. coli O157:H7. Yet, despite the improvements in the microbiological quality of beef carcasses, the incidence of Salmonella in beef products, including ground beef has remained relatively stable.
2. Research conducted by Guy Loneragan at Texas Tech University and others points to the internal presence of Salmonella in beef lymph nodes as a major source of contamination in beef products. If this is true, it represents a major challenge to the beef industry because there is currently no way to eliminate this form of contamination other than cooking or irradiation.
3. David Plunkett from the consumer group - Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) made it clear that his group will continue to advocate that Salmonella be regulated as an adulterant in meat and poultry products in the same way as E. coli O157:H7 and the Big Six Non- O157 STEC's are in beef.FSIS Administrator Al Almanza and others on the panel expressed a need for more and better data in order to properly understand the problem of Salmonella and beef. Clearly, this is needed. However, if the problem is contaminated lymph nodes, more data won't solve the problem.

I believe that the solution has to lie in pre-harvest interventions. The industry has to develop technologies that eliminate Salmonella in cattle before they enter into the food supply. The solution may be a vaccine or some combination of vaccines, probiotics and chemical inhibitors. The objective has to be the elimination of Salmonella.

If the problem can't be addressed using preharvest interventions and FSIS does act to declare Salmonella as an adulterant, then the only real alternative for raw beef will be some form of irradiation pasteurization. In any case, Salmonella and lymph nodes is emerging as the biggest challenge the beef industry has ever faced. Read more here...
Salmonella risks in beef lymph nodes; By Dayna Harhay, microbiologist USDA's U.S. Meat Animal Research Center; (February 4, 2013)

Bacterial contamination is responsible for vast numbers of foodborne illnesses each year in the United States. Salmonella enterica is one of the leading bacterial agents of foodborne disease, causing approximately 40,000 documented cases in the U.S. each year. Although poultry products and, more recently, contaminated fresh produce are well-established vectors for S. enterica, several food-borne disease case studies have shown undercooked ground beef to be sources of sporadic and outbreak cases of salmonellosis.

Read more here...  

Salmonella infections linked to Foster Farms;; By Meat&Poultry Staff (February 15, 2013).

ATLANTA - A total of 124 people in 12 states have been infected with Salmonella Heidelberg since June 2012, Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control reported Feb. 14.
Most of the infections occurred in Washington state (56) and Oregon (38), CDC said. Thirty-one people have been hospitalized, but there have been no deaths associated with the outbreak, according to the agency.
CDC said state public health officials are interviewing ill persons regarding foods they might have eaten and other exposures in the week before getting sick. However, available information indicates that chicken is the most likely source of infection.
Public health officials in Oregon and Washington identified Foster Farms brand chicken as the most likely source of infections in their states. Approximately 81 percent of those interviewed reported eating chicken in the week before becoming ill. CDC said the investigation is ongoing to determine the specific type and source of chicken that might be linked with the outbreak. Read more here... 

The surprising foods that make people sick; By Maggie Fox, Senior Writer, NBC News; (January 29, 2013):  

ATLANTA, GEORGIA: Salad greens make the most people sick, but contaminated poultry kills the most Americans, federal researchers report in the first comprehensive look at the foods that cause foodborne illnesses. And there are a few surprises -- the bug most likely to be lurking in a salad is norovirus, and it probably came from the hands of the person who made it.

This doesn't mean salad is more dangerous, the team at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stresses: It just shows what foods are most involved and may reflect how often people eat them.

  Read more here... 
Foodborne Pathogens and Disease; David A. Dargatz, Jianfa Bai, Brian V. Lubbers, Christine A. Kopral, Baoyan An, and Gary A. Anderson; (March 4, 2013). 
While efforts to control foodborne illness associated with the Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (E. coli) O157 through processes and procedures implemented at harvest facilities have been very successful, there is concern about the burden of illness associated with other Shiga toxin-producing E. coli. The U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service announced plans to classify an additional six non-O157 Shiga toxin-producing E. coli as adulterants. Little is known about the prevalence and distribution of these E. coli in the animal production environment. An investigation of the prevalence of O157 and the six major non-O157 E. coli serogroups was conducted in 21 feedlots over the period July 2011 to October 2011. Individual fecal swabs were collected from cattle approximately 60 days after their arrival in the feedlot and were pooled for evaluation using a polymerase chain reaction assay to identify the presence of seven E. coli O-types (O157, O45, O103, O121, O145, O26, and O111) and four virulence genes (stx1, stx2, eaeA, and ehxA). Overall, 1145 fecal pools were evaluated, with 506 (44.2%) being positive for one or more of the E. coli O-serogroups. The pool prevalences for E. coli O157, O45, O26, O103, O121, O145, and O111 were 19.7%, 13.8%, 9.9%, 9.3%, 5.5%, 1.1%, and 0.5%, respectively. Nearly all pools were positive for ehxA (99.7%) or stx2 (98.6%). The pool level prevalence for stx1 and eae was 65.5% and 69.3%, respectively. Pools that were positive for one or more of the other E. coli O-serogroups were 1.37 times more likely to be positive for E. coli O157. Conversely, pools that were positive for E. coli O157 were 1.43 times more likely to be positive for at least one of the other E. coli O-serogroups evaluated. These data will be useful to understand the expected prevalence of potential Shiga toxin-producing E. coli in cattle feedlots. Read more here...

Science denial is the province of the right wing. Right? Wrong.By GLENN GARVIN * Miami Herald; (March 1, 2013):

MIAMI: If this column appeared under the headline, "Massive defeat for the antiscience forces," you would naturally assume I'm talking about a setback for conservative Republicans, right? But you would be wrong.

The losers in this case are the Lud-dite shock troops of progressivism like Greenpeace. The winners are the children of the Philippines, thousands of whom will not go blind or die because the antiscience wing of modern liberalism finally is getting some pushback.

The Filipino government has finally approved the planting of genetically modified rice that contains vitamin A. "Golden rice," as the stuff is called, probably won't make a splash in the United States. But in the Third World, it will be a godsend.

Between a quarter-million and a half-million children go blind each year from vitamin A deficiency, the United Nations says. Half of them die within 12 months. Some studies put the figure higher.

As many as 300 million of the people at high risk for vitamin A deficiency live in countries where the staple food is rice. For them, golden rice will provide a quick, easy and cheap fix: Eating just two ounces a day will provide 60 percent of the recommended daily dose of Vitamin A.

Read more here....
FOOD IRRADIATION: A GUIDE FOR CONSUMERS, POLICYMAKERS AND THE MEDIA published by the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) can be downloaded at Food Irradiation Book
IRRADIATED FOODS; published by the American Council on Science & Health Provides Science- provides science-based Information on food irradiation. The booklet can be downloaded at:IRRADIATED FOODS
Food Irradiation Principles and Applications
is an excellent source of information about food irradiation. For information go to:
Food Irradiation: Principles & Applications
FOOD IRRADIATION: QUESTIONS & ANSWERS is an excellent source of information on food irradiation.FOOD IRRADIATION: QUESTIONS & ANSWERS
Food Irradiation Update is being sent to you by Ronald F. Eustice on behalf of the Food Irradiation Processing Alliance (FIPA) and the International Irradiation Association (iiA).
Ronald F. Eustice
Minneapolis, MN

For more information on food irradiation visit
Remember: Food irradiation is a cold pasteurization process that will do for meats, produce, and other foods what thermal pasteurization did for milk decades ago.
Ronald F.  Eustice




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