This summer, the US Dept. of Agriculture quietly turned down a six-year-old petition from the American Meat Institute to allow the use of electron-beam irradiation on meat and poultry carcasses as a food-safety processing tool. The Food Safety and Inspection Service's decision somehow was kept under the radar and avoided coverage by most national daily newspapers, TV reports and the news was scarcely mentioned on the Internet.
The petition was submitted by the trade association in 2005, and food- safety regulators mulled it for more than five years.
Ironically, the idea was supported by both the meat and poultry industry and some consumer groups, although some consumer advocates voiced concerns about the safety of eating irradiated food. There were also concerns about consumers being unwilling to embrace food products bearing labels with the Radura symbol- the official irradiation logo.
With the implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act and the pressure of accountability for food safety put even more squarely on the food industry, AMI faults FSIS for not taking action to remove an obstacle to use what it calls a safe and proven technology to help improve the safety of poultry and meat products.