OAKLAND, CA -- "The announcement today by the Food and Drug Administration that it will be approving the use of irradiation on red meat to destroy pathogenic organisms is truly welcome news to an industry kept on the edge of bureaucratic indecision too long," said Jeremy Russell, Communications Manager for the Oakland-based Association. "After three years of waiting, this is an important step towards enhancing the safety of meat."

In making its decision, the FDA was responding to a petition that was filed in 1994. Approval was however delayed until Congress forced the issue on November 21, 1997 by giving the FDA a sixty day deadline to respond.

Despite this announced approval, irradiation cannot be applied to beef until the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has amended its regulations to include irradiation. FSIS sources have indicated that they will act promptly in this matter.

"This will allow the food industry access to a vital tool in providing consumers with the safest product possible," said Russell. "There has been little demand for irradiated poultry in the past, but beef is one kind of meat that is enjoyed undercooked; irradiation may make that rare burger possible again." He added that, approval for meat will be most beneficial to niche markets and will respond to consumer demand.

Details of the FDA action will be published in the Federal Register on December 3, 1997 and available to interested members of the Association thereafter by request. It may also be possible to view them through NMA's website, as well.

National Meat Association is a non-profit trade association representing meat packers and processors, as well as equipment manufacturers and suppliers who provide services to the meat industry. The association, with over 600 members throughout the United States, includes membership in Canada, Australia and Mexico.

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Jeremy Russell
National Meat Association
(510) 763-1533
[email protected]

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