US government and trade body clash on E-beam debate

By Rory Harrington

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Fsis Meat

A four-year campaign by the American Meat Institute (AMI) to have electron beam technology approved as a processing aid appears no nearer resolution after the government and the group disagreed over progress on the issue.

In September, the American Meat Institute (AMI) urged the US Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) to come to a decision on a petition to allow electron beam (E-beam) technology that the body had submitted four years ago.

In the letter sent to Jerold R. Mande, USDA deputy under secretary food safety, the trade association said it understood the government safety watchdog had concerns over the technology and requested a meeting to discuss the issues of anxiety in a bid to “move forward”.

Promising technology

E-beams have been used for decades in the food and beverage sectors. They work by directing a shower of accelerated electrons through a high-voltage emitter towards a target. The meat association is requesting that authorisation be granted so that e-beam irradiation can be applied to the surface of chilled beef carcasses as a food safety processing aid. The AMI described e-beam irradiation as “a promising technology”.

However, the prospects of a decision seemed no nearer after the government body and the AMI clashed on what advances have been made since last month’s correspondence.

When contacted by FoodProductionDaily.com for a response to the AMI plea, FSIS spokesman Neil Gaffney said: “FSIS has been in communication with AMI regarding their petition on irradiation. Most recently, FSIS raised several concerns with AMI regarding the petition, but the agency has not yet received a response addressing those issues.”

Contradiction

But the meat industry body has contradicted this statement saying it has received no communication from the FSIS outlining any anxieties it has regarding the technology.

“We have not received a list of questions or concerns from FSIS,”​ said AMI executive vice president James H. Hodges. “To date, discussions between AMI and FSIS have focused on how to move the regulatory process forward.

AMI has repeatedly urged FSIS to move forward with such rulemaking to allow carcass surface irradiation to be declared a processing aid,”​ said Hodges. “As a public health agency, FSIS should now take the next step and initiate the rulemaking process to

provide a regulatory framework that will encourage the use of a technology that can improve food safety and protect public health.”

Related topics Food safety and labeling

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