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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


item Sommers, Christopher

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/5/2004
Publication Date: 5/12/2004
Citation: Sommers, C.H. 2004. USDA irradiation perspective - agricultural research service role in the national school lunch program. Major City Directors & Supervisors Meeting. May 12, 2004, Lakeland, Florida. p1.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: In 2002 the Farm Bill allowed the use of approved intervention technologies, including ionizing radiation, to ensure the microbiological safety of ground beef supplied as part of the National School Lunch Program (NSLP). School districts would have the option of purchasing, on a voluntary basis, irradiated ground beef patties for their programs. Procurement specifications and distribution of NSLP ground beef products are the responsibility of USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS). Educational programs are the responsibility of the USDA's Food and Nutrition Service (FNS). In 2003, both agencies requested assistance from USDA's Agricultural Research Service in order to complete their mission objectives. Scientists at ARS's Eastern Regional Research Center (ERRC) in Wyndmoor PA assisted both agencies by providing background research pertaining to the radiation doses required to eliminate pathogenic bacteria from frozen ground beef while maintaining product quality. In addition, ERRC scientists helped AMS to complete procurement specifications for irradiated ground beef patties and assisted AMS in developing quality assurance audit procedures as part of their vendor qualification audit process. Further, scientists assisted FNS in answering school district administrator questions pertaining to the nutritional quality, palatability, and toxicological safety of irradiated ground beef. Scientists at ERRC assisted both agencies by conducting studies on sensory evaluation of irradiated and non-irradiated ground beef patties. In these studies, untrained panelists could not distinguish between the irradiated and non-irradiated products.

Last Modified: 06/24/2017
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