Is Irradiated Beef Safe?

By: Matt Zahn
By: Matt Zahn

Irradiated meat goes under a high-energy electron beam before hitting the store shelves. The process eliminates 99.9 percent of all bacteria on the meat.

Studies have shown that irradiated meat causes no side effects to the people who eat it.

The irradiated meat costs about 50 cents more per pound than the regular stuff. Some local stores that sell irradiated meat include both Wausau area Pick N' Saves, all three Wausau area IGAs, and Copps in Stevens Point.

For more information on irradiated beef, you can log on to meatnews.com.

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What Is Food Irradiation?

  • Food irradiation is the use of gamma rays, electron beams, or X-rays to expose food products to ionizing radiation that causes changes and damages or destroys living cells.

  • Depending on the food type and radiation dosage, irradiation can be used to:
    • sterilize food for storage at room temperature
    • control pathogenic microorganisms
    • delay spoilage of fresh foods
    • control insect infestations
    • delay ripening of certain fruits
    • inhibit sprouting of certain vegetables

  • Extensive scientific research reviewed by the World Health Organization and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has indicated the irradiated food is safe to eat.

  • The Federal Government first approved irradiation as a method for controlling food borne pathogens in 1983, and it was restricted to spices and dried vegetable seasonings.

  • Using irradiation for other items arrived later:
    • Dry enzyme preparations in 1985
    • Raw pork in 1985
    • Raw poultry in 1992
    • The Federal Government is currently considering whether to permit irradiation in ready-to-eat processed meats such as hot dogs and cold cuts.

Source: http://www.ers.usda.gov/publications/AIB757/ (Economic Research Service U.S. Department of Agriculture)


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