WASHINGTON – After more than five years of deliberation, the US Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service has refused to remove a roadblock for the use of electron-beam irradiation on carcasses as a processing aid, a decision that the American Meat Institute said is disappointing.

“[E-beam irradiation is] a safe and proven technology that can further improve the safety of meat and poultry products,” said James Hodges, president of the AMI Foundation. “FSIS cites technical reasons for the denial of AMI's petition to treat carcass irradiation as a processing aid, when the petition simply asked FSIS to initiate the process of making a labeling policy change to encourage the use of irradiation technology.”

“Food safety is our No. 1 priority and our goal is to put as many food safety tools in the toolbox as possible,” Hodges said. “Carcass irradiation is one of those added food-safety tools that if approved, would complement the many other technologies used to produce the most wholesome products possible.

“All technical issues related to how carcass irradiation is applied could have and would have been resolved during the rulemaking process to allow irradiation to be treated and labeled in the same manner as all other processing aids,” he added. “Given the substantial food-safety benefits this technology has proven to offer, AMI will continue to work with FSIS to resolve these labeling questions.”