World News 21/05/2014

Ionizing radiation to control foodborne pathogenic organisms in crustaceans

US FDA requires special labeling for irradiated food and food packaging

On 14 April 2014 the United States Food and Drug Administration (US FDA) amended the food additive regulations to allow the safe use of ionizing radiation on crustaceans (1).  The purpose of the radiation is to control foodborne pathogens and extend shelf life (2).

Rule of Irradiation for Food and  Packaging

This rule allows crustaceans (e.g., crab, shrimp, lobster, crayfish, and prawns) to be treated with a maximum does of 6.0 kiloGrays of radiation. This rule covers products in raw, frozen, cooked, partially cooked, shelled, dried, cooked, ready-to-cook or processed form with spices or small amounts of other food ingredients. These products are to be stored and handled the same as other non-irradiated foods because the radiation at this level will reduce but not entirely eliminate the number of pathogenic organisms on and in crustaceans.

Labeling Requirements for Irradiated Food and Packaging

Irradiated foods sold in the United States of America are to be labeled with the international symbol for irradiation (radura) and in addition must have a statement of “treated with radiation” or ‘Treated by Irradiation”

Bulk foods must be labeled on the container, or a counter sign, card or appropriate means to inform the consumer that the product is treated with radiation. Multi-ingredient foods that contain ingredients that have been irradiated do not have to be labeled as such unless the food has been irradiated. Foods served in restaurants are exempt from these labeling requirements ( ).

The US FDA currently allows a wide variety of foods to be treated with irradiation. Fresh foods, spices, poultry, meat, molluscan shellfish, iceberg lettuce, fresh spinach and seeds for sprouting are allowed to be treated with irradiation.

di R. T.