Health Cda consulting on irradiated beef

OTTAWA – Health Canada is starting a 75-day consultation over a proposal to allow the irradiation of fresh and frozen ground beef as a food safety measure.

Industry groups have sought irradiation for more than a decade as a way to prevent the spread of E. coli, salmonella and other dangerous bacteria, but the measure has run into negative public reaction.

Health Canada says it has done a thorough safety review and says irradiated beef is safe to eat and maintains its food value, taste, texture and appearance.

Irradiation is already approved in Canada to treat potatoes, onions, wheat, flour, whole or ground spices and dehydrated seasoning preparations; irradiated products are also required to be labelled as such.

The 75-day consultation period will seek comment from the public and stakeholders.

Health Canada says irradiation is an optional tool meant to complement, not replace, existing food safety processing standards and practices, such as appropriate handling, sanitation and storage.