New Partnership Bolsters Food
October 11, 2000
PHILADELPHIA, Pa., Oct.
11U.S. Department of Agriculture
scientists will join forces with industry researchers to more closely study the
effects of irradiation on food quality and food safety.
The federal scientists, with USDAs Agricultural Research Service, have entered
into a 5-year agreement with Ion Beam
Applications (IBA) Food Safety Division located in Memphis, Tenn. The
ARS scientists work in the Food Safety Research Unit at the agencys
Eastern Regional Research Center,
Wyndmoor, Pa. ARS is the chief scientific research agency of USDA.
ARS specialists are leaders in conducting research on using ionizing
radiation to minimize pathogens in foods, said ARS Administrator Floyd P.
Horn. Our research findings helped lead to major food irradiation
regulation by the Food Safety
Inspection Service (FSIS) and the Food and
Drug Administration (FDA).
FSIS and FDA have approved use of
irradiation to reduce harmful microorganisms on poultry and red meats,
including beef, lamb and pork. For the past 40 years, FDA has been evaluating
the safety of foods treated with radiation and has not found any consumer
health risks associated with eating low-dose irradiated foods.
Ionizing radiation kills bacterial pathogens through the use of either gamma
rays produced by cobalt and cesium atoms, or machine-produced X-rays and
IBA is the largest irradiation service provider, with 27 facilities
worldwide. They have extended the use of their industrial-size sterilization
and ionization equipment to ARS researchers for large-scale research.
According to the Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention, each year 76 million people in the United States become ill
from food-borne pathogens. Of those, more than 300,000 are hospitalized and
5,000 die. More sound scientific research on irradiated foods should allow for
an improved U.S. food supply, and provide consumers with the facts with which
to make wise choices about irradiated foods.
Scientific contact: Donald W. Thayer, ARS Eastern Regional Research
Center, Wyndmoor, Pa., phone (215) 233-6582, fax (215) 233-6406,
firstname.lastname@example.org. Chip Colonna, IBA
Food Safety Division, Memphis, Tenn., phone (901) 681-9006, fax (901) 681-9007,