Blog List >  Beef Irradiation: Big Industry Fix for a Big Industry Problem 
Beef Irradiation: Big Industry Fix for a Big Industry Problem 
Jun 2 2013 9:32PM Posted by Michael Nimitz
 

Nimitz Beef straight from the ranch, no microwaving included.

The biggest news in the beef industry over the past several months has been the push to allow beef processing facilities to use the process of irradiation on beef to create a safe product for the consumer. With the promise that it will reduce the chance of more dangerous E. coli being present in the end product offered to the consumer.

CCA submits request for approval of beef irradiation to Health Canada

(www.farms.com)

Beef industry asks Ottawa to approve use of irradiation

(www.leaderpost.com)

Beef industry asking Ottawa to approve irradiation to kill dangerous E. coli

(www.ctvnews.ca)

What is comes down to is whether or not you as the consumer want to eat food that is irradiated and if you think it is the appropriate step to accomplish a safe product.

“Food irradiation is the process of exposing food to a controlled amount of energy called "ionizing radiation." There are three different types of radiation allowed: Gamma rays, X-rays and electron beam radiation.”

It is possible for irradiated food to become contaminated after it has been treated. For this reason, proper storage, handling and cooking are very important. So is there any guarantee that your irradiated beef won’t become contaminated again before it reaches you, possibly by being tenderized before being sold to you. The tenderizing process was linked to one of the major E. coli recalls in 2012. The whole problem that is leading to E.coli out breaks is the unsafe and rushed procedures in the production process.

Would it maybe be better to focus more on the butchering process itself that takes place in these huge processing facilities that see hundreds of animals pass through per hour and thousands per day. While irradiation might provide the customer with a sense of safety if is approved by health Canada, it is unlikely to change the ability of the large packers and processors to meet the current health standards for beef processing. It is similar to painting your broken car before you sell it, makes it look nice but doesn’t fix the parts that are missing in the engine.

Dr. Patricia Whisnant, a graduate of the University of Tennessee College Of Veterinary Medicine (1981) was quoted saying “Irradiation may provide an excuse not to tackle the real sources and practices responsible for the contamination of beef…mainly the filth in the confined environment of the feedlot and the fecal contamination that occurs in the high speed slaughter facility.” As Whisnant further states “Our efforts in the meat industry should be aimed at removing the filth from the source, not just making cow manure safer to eat ” 1

In the end it comes down to what you want to eat, beef irradiation has been shown to have very little effect on the nutritional level of beef2, it can in some cases change the flavour but there have not been other serious side effects realized. We are just here to present some ideas and facts in the end it is still your choice.

  1. 1.     http://www.swbooster.com/Opinion/Letter%20to%20the%20editor/2013-05-20/article-3252704/Irradiated-beef-not-the-solution-to-food-safety/1
  2. 2.      http://holbert.faculty.asu.edu/eee460/jdg/

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Kim Bedell   ( Jun 10 2013 8:36PM )
Irradiation shouldn't be allowed. Our food should be processed in a clean environment in a respectful way. Let's stop this practice.
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