WASHINGTON – The Food and Drug Administration released two final rules that increase the maximum allowable dosage of irradiation in meat and poultry. The new rules came in response to petitions from the US Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service.

The first rule allows producers to irradiate unrefrigerated raw meat. For meat products, the rule calls for a 4.5 kilogray (kGy) maximum absorbed dose of ionizing radiation to treat unrefrigerated and refrigerated raw meat, meat byproducts and "certain meat food products" to reduce foodborne pathogen levels and extend shelf life. This is an increase from the previous 3.0 kGy.

For poultry, the rule amends food additive regulations to increase the allowable maximum dose of ionizing radiation to 4.5 kGy for fresh poultry and 7.0 kGy for frozen poultry. It also removes the limitation that any packaging used during irradiation of poultry shall not exclude oxygen.

Irradiation is considered a food additive and therefore falls under the jurisdiction of the FDA, which regulates all additives.