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FDA Allows Ionizing Radiation to Control Foodborne Pathogens in Crustaceans

Monday, April 14, 2014
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

The Food and Drug Administration has issued a final rule that, effective April 14, amends its food additive regulations to allow the use of ionizing radiation on crustaceans (e.g., crab, shrimp, lobster, crayfish and prawns) to control foodborne pathogens and extend shelf life. Objections to this rule and/or requests for a hearing are due no later than May 14.

In response to a petition first filed in 2001, the FDA has concluded that the use of irradiation to treat chilled or frozen raw, cooked or partially cooked crustaceans, or dried crustaceans, with or without spices, minerals, inorganic salts, citrates, citric acid and/or calcium disodium EDTA used in accordance with applicable laws and regulations, is safe, provided that the absorbed dose does not exceed 6.0 kiloGray. At this dose, the FDA notes,ionizing radiation will reduce, but not entirely eliminate, the number of illness causing microorganisms in or on crustaceans. The FDA also points out that irradiation is not a substitute for proper food-handling practices and that crustaceans treated with ionizing radiation must be stored, handled and cooked in the same way as non-irradiated foods.

FDA regulations require that irradiated foods bear the international symbol for irradiation (radura) and carry the statement “Treated with radiation” or “Treated by irradiation” on the food label. For foods not in package form, the logo and phrase must be displayed to the purchaser with either the labeling of the bulk container plainly in view or a counter sign, card or other appropriate device bearing the information that the product has been treated with radiation. Multi-ingredient foods that contain ingredients that have been irradiated (e.g., spices) are not required to be labeled if the food itself has not been irradiated.

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