Health Canada to Propose Allowing the Sale of Irradiated Ground Beef

By Drinkwater, Rob | The Canadian Press, May 30, 2016 | Go to article overview

Health Canada to Propose Allowing the Sale of Irradiated Ground Beef


Drinkwater, Rob, The Canadian Press


Beef irradiation to get another chance

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EDMONTON - Health Canada will propose regulatory changes to Food and Drug Regulations next month that would allow the sale of irradiated ground beef in Canada.

A page on the department's website states the proposed amendments would add fresh and frozen raw ground beef to a list of foods that are already permitted to undergo radiation treatment.

It says the purpose would be to allow, but not require, the beef industry to use irradiation to "improve the safety of their products."

Health Canada spokeswoman Maryse Durette says the proposed regulations for ground beef will be announced in June in the Canada Gazette and that a public consultation period will follow.

Industry groups in Canada have sought irradiation for over a decade as a way to prevent the spread of E. coli and other dangerous bacteria, but negative public reaction to it has slowed progress.

Health Canada earlier proposed to permit the sale of irradiated ground beef in 2002, but according to the web page it was never finalized "due to mostly negative stakeholder reaction."

"I think public perception has changed," says Mark Klassen, director of technical services with the Canadian Cattlemen's Association, based in Alberta.

"When we ask Canadians if they think they should be able to purchase irradiated beef, they're accepting of it."

Irradiation involves bombarding meat with radiant energy similar to X-rays. Critics claim it produces toxic compounds, like benzene, and reduces the nutritional value of food. They also say it changes the taste of meat.

The cattlemen's association first launched an application to use irradiation for ground beef in 1998. Its updated application in 2013 to irradiate all kinds of beef followed a tainted beef recall at what was then the XL Foods plant in southern Alberta.

In 2012, 18 people in British Columbia, Quebec, Alberta and Newfoundland and Labrador got sick from E. coli linked to beef from the facility, leading to the largest meat recall in Canadian history. …

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