CHICAGO — According to a study presented in the March Journal of Food Science published by the Institute of Food Technologists, irradiation at higher doses caused a small but statistically significant increase in artery-clogging trans-fatty acids in ground beef and frankfurters. The U.S. Department of Agriculture Eastern Regional Research Center in Wyndmoor, Pa., and the U.S.D.A. Quality Assessment Research Unit in Athens, Ga., sponsored the study.

Ground beef and frankfurter samples were irradiated during the study at three different doses. Ground beef was stored for seven days and frankfurters were stored for three months. After being irradiated and stored, results show while the low-dose irradiation did not induce any change in trans-fatty acid content, the increased irradiation caused a small but statistically significant increase in the dominant trans-fatty acid.

"Compared to variations in trans-fatty acid content occurring naturally in meat and meat products, the increases due to irradiation were negligible," said Xuetong Fan, lead researcher.

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