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American Meat Institute Sets the Record Straight on Carcass Irradiation Petition, Urges FSIS to Move Forward on Rulemaking Process

Friday, February 5, 2010
 

Washington, D.C.–  “The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)  should move forward with rulemaking in response to a petition filed more than four years ago by the American Meat Institute (AMI), which asks USDA to recognize carcass surface irradiation as a processing aid.  By initiating a rulemaking process that involves all stakeholders, any questions, concerns and data can be addressed in an open and transparent manner,” said American Meat Institute Executive Vice President James H. Hodges.

Hodges was responding to several inaccurate reports about the status of the petition, which remains under consideration at USDA and has not been rejected, contrary to some news reports. 

According to Hodges, by filing its petition on July 8, 2005, AMI asked FSIS to recognize the use of low dose, low penetration electron beam irradiation applied to the surface of chilled beef carcasses as a processing aid and, accordingly, that the process need not be labeled on products derived from the carcass.  In that petition, AMI said carcass irradiation should be treated as a “processing aid” because it only treats the the surface of the carcass and does not irradiate the entire product.  Other processing aids applied to the exterior of carcasses do not trigger product labeling and this technology should not either.

“FSIS has all the information it needs to move forward with rulemaking, Hodges said.  During the rulemaking process, FSIS should set the parameters by which this technology is permitted to be used.  The role of government is to establish the standards for using this safe and effective technology.  Companies that meet the standards and parameters set by FSIS in a rule should be permitted to include this effective intervention in their food safety systems,” he added.

“This is a different application of a proven technology, but one that merits a prompt review in an open rulemaking process,” Hodges said today.  “Given FSIS’ important role in ensuring public health, the agency should work to remove road blocks that prevent the adoption of safe and promising technologies.  USDA has the authority to initiate this rulemaking today and could have done so even absent a petition.”

A copy of the initial request can be found here:  http://www.fsis.usda.gov/PDF/Petition_Carcass_Surface_Irrad.pdf

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