Agency ap­proves sale of ir­ra­di­ated ground beef

The Hamilton Spectator - - CANADA & WORLD - JOHN COT­TER

The fed­eral govern­ment has approved the sale of ground beef that has been treated with ra­di­ant en­ergy sim­i­lar to X-rays.

Health Canada says ir­ra­di­a­tion can re­duce lev­els of harm­ful bac­te­ria such as E. coli and sal­mo­nella that could be in the meat.

It also says ir­ra­di­a­tion of fresh and frozen raw ground beef can pre­vent pre­ma­ture spoilage.

“Health Canada de­vel­oped the new reg­u­la­tion af­ter con­duct­ing a thor­ough as­sess­ment and con­cluded that ir­ra­di­a­tion is a safe and ef­fec­tive treat­ment to re­duce harm­ful bac­te­ria in ground beef,” the depart­ment said in a re­lease Wed­nes­day.

“Ir­ra­di­a­tion is an op­tional tool that the food in­dus­try can use to treat cer­tain foods to main­tain qual­ity or en­hance safety.”

Un­der the new reg­u­la­tion, ir­ra­di­ated ground beef prod­ucts must be la­belled as such and in­clude the in­ter­na­tional sym­bol on pack­ag­ing. The sym­bol is usu­ally green and re­sem­bles a plant within a cir­cle.

Health Canada noted that the United States has per­mit­ted the ir­ra­di­a­tion of ground beef prod­ucts since 1999. Canada’s beef cat­tle in­dus­try has been ask­ing the Cana­dian govern­ment to ap­prove ground beef ir­ra­di­a­tion since 1998.

Ir­ra­di­a­tion is al­ready used in Canada to treat pota­toes, onions, wheat, flour, spices and some sea­son­ings.

Mark Klassen, a spokesper­son for the Cana­dian Cat­tle­men’s As­so­ci­a­tion, said it’s good news for con­sumers and beef pro­duc­ers.

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