Irradiation of meat in the United States of America
In the United States, food irradiation is legislated under the Food Additives regulations in the federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. Meat that is irradiated is not exempt from the regulations that govern non-irradiated products; meat and meat products remain subject to the federal Meat Inspection Act, poultry products remain subject to the Poultry Products Inspection Act, etc. Both acts are administered by the Food Safety and Inspection Service of the Department of Agriculture.
Food irradiation is achieved using low-dose, medium-dose, or high-dose levels of radiation. Low dose irradiation (less than 2 kiloGray or kGy) is used to delay sprouting of vegetables and aging of fruits; medium dose (between 1 and 10 kGy) is used to reduce the levels of pathogenic organisms, similar to pasteurization; and high dose (higher than10 kGy) is used to achieve sterility of the product. The regulations specify 4.5 kGy as the maximum dose permitted for irradiation of refrigerated meat, meat byproducts, and certain meat food products; and 7.0 kGy as the maximum dose for frozen meat, meat byproducts and certain meat food products.
Food is packaged prior to irradiation to prevent recontamination. Food packaging material will also be irradiated and therefore must undergo pre-market approval by the US Food and Drug Administration before being used; it is subject to the regulations in 21 CFR 179.45. The meat and meat by-products that are allowed to be irradiated include: refrigerated and frozen uncooked meat, meat by-products (edible organs) and other certain meat food products (e.g. ground hamburger). Ready to consume meats, such as deli-meats, are not included in the list of meat that is approved for irradiation. Deli meats can undergo post packaging pasteurization by immersion of the packaged product in hot water or steam.
Department of Health and Human Services – Food and Drug Administration (1997). 21 CFR 179 – Irradiation in the Production, Processing and Handling of Food: Final Rule. Retrieved from http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~Ird/fr97123a.html
Food Safety and Inspection Service. United States Department of Agriculture. (2003). News Release: FSIS Strengthens Regulations to Reduce Listeria monocytogenes in Ready-to-eat Meat and Poultry Products. Retrieved from http://www.fsis.usda.gov/OA/news/2003/imfinal.html
Ingham, S., DeVita, M., Wadhera, R., Fanslau, M., & Buege, D. (2003). Evaluation of Small-Scale Hot-Water Post-Packaging Pasteurization Treatments for Destruction of Listeria monocytogenes on Ready-To-Eat Beef Snack Sticks and Natural Casing Wieners. FSIS_USFDA. Retrieved from http://www.fsis.usda.gov/PDF/New_Technology_C-26_Report_FY2003.pdf
Morehouse, K. & Komolprasert, V. (2004). ACS Symposium Series 875: Irradiation of Food and Packaging: An Overview. CFSAN/Office of Food Additive Safety. April 2007. Retrieved from http:www.cfsan.fda.gov/~dms/irraover.html
Muriana, P., Gande, N., Robertson, W., Jordan, B. & Mitra, S. (2004). Effect of prepackage and postpackage pasteurization on postprocess elimination of Listeria monocytogenes on deli turkey products. J Food Prot ., 67, 2472–9.
Murphy R.Y., Duncan, L.K., Driscoll, K.H., Marcy, J.A. & Beard, B.L. (2003). Thermal inactivation of Listeria monocytogenes on ready-to-eat turkey breast meat products during postcook in-package pasteurization with hot water. J Food Prot, 66, 1618–22.
Date modified: 2012-08-01