Calgary – The Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) believes consumers should have a choice when it comes to irradiated food products.
That’s why the organization has resubmitted an application – the first application was submitted more than 10 years ago – to Health Canada to allow ground beef to be irradiated in Canada.
The CCA’s first application, reports the CalgaryHerald.com, was “stalled in the bureaucracy.”
The CCA says irradiation can be an effective technology, which Canada has already approved for use on other foods such as potatoes, onions, wheat flour, spices and dehydrated seasonings.
It’s also used as a normal course of business in 50 countries around the world to improve food safety for consumers.
The Canadian Meat Council, says the CalgaryHerald.com, also wrote a letter to Health Canada last December urging it to approve the use of irradiation.
The ability of irradiation to reduce E.coli O157 and other pathogenic E.coli is well established, says the CCA. When combined with food safety interventions already in use, irradiation could essentially eliminate E.coli-related illness associated with ground beef.
The CCA believes this is reason enough to support making this choice available to Canadians who wish to purchase irradiated food products.
But back in the late 1990s, says the CalgaryHerald.com, consumer resistance was strong. It’s why Health Canada abandoned the approval process, even after it had received many applications from industry groups seeking approval of the process for meat, poultry and seafood.
And, says the CalgaryHerald.com, Health Canada abandoned the process in spite of evidence showing that irradiation of ground beef, chicken, prawns and mangoes was safe and effective at killing pathogens including E. coli.
Beef irradiation can be performed using electricity to create energy which can destroy harmful bacteria. This process, called E-beam, is routinely used in the U.S. where irradiated beef products have been available to consumers since 2000.
The Health Canada scientific review process has confirmed that irradiation causes minor changes to food, similar to cooking, and does not lead to any change in beef that would have an adverse effect on human health or that would significantly diminish its nutritional value.
The World Health Organization, and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations have endorsed the safety of irradiated foods.