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[cdn-nucl-l] Irradiation Article Fallout Continues
Posted in Meat News.com on July 10, 2003 and at:
The Minnesota Beef Council web page is at:
Irradiation Article Fallout Continues
Another industry group challenges a Consumer Reports article that disparages
The Minnesota Beef Council in the USA has attacked comments in a report in a
consumer magazine on irradiated beef as misleading.
Ron Eustice, executive director of the Minnesota Beef Council, said in a
letter to Consumer Reports' editorial directors Julia Kagan and Margot
Slade, that the article, which paints a less than favourable picture of
irradiated beef, in the August 2003 issue of the magazine "contains
inaccurate and misleading statements that do a disservice to your readers."
MBC has made great strides in introducing irradiated meat to consumers,
including hosting tasting sessions at fairs and other events.
"The article states that bacterial levels in irradiated, uncooked ground
beef and skinless chicken tenders were generally much lower than in the
non-irradiated meat," Mr Eustice said.
"But the irradiated meat still contained some bacteria. The previous
sentence is misleading, since no claim is made by irradiation companies that
all bacteria is eliminated. Literature and point-of-sale material from
irradiation companies clearly state that the process helps to reduce or
eliminate the threat from harmful bacteria."
The tone of the article implies that because it does not result in a sterile
product the irradiation process is therefore of little value, he added.
"Are you seriously suggesting that the additional reduction in the levels of
bacteria by more than 99 per cent resulting from irradiation is of no
benefit? The multiple barrier approach to food safety requires that several
interventions be put into place whose contributions to microbial reduction
are additive. Irradiation represents a huge increment in the total microbial
kill built into the food manufacturing process. Had irradiation been in
place, the likelihood is that several of the more recent E. coli
O157:H7-related outbreaks would have been avoided; ie, some kids would be
alive today, that aren't."
The Consumer Reports said that trained testers noted a slight but distinct
off-taste and smell in most of the irradiated beef and chicken sampled.
The report also states that the taste differences were usually subtle.
"These statements contradict each other; distinct means clear and
distinguishable, and subtle is defined as difficult to distinguish," Mr
"How can these differences be clear and distinguishable (distinct) yet
difficult to distinguish (subtle)?
"Further, your article fails to consider the considerable variation in taste
and other sensory attributes that is naturally present in beef from
different sources. The slight change in sensory properties due to
irradiation that is detected by some people needs to be evaluated in this
context," he told Consumer Reports in his letter.
He also informed Ms Kagan and Ms Slade that MBC conducted a number of
sensory tests of irradiated and non-irradiated ground beef during the past
"Our evaluations clearly indicate that the overall liking for the flavour
and texture does not differ between the control and the irradiated samples,"
Numerous scientific consumer studies have shown that the taste of irradiated
foods is not significantly changed, and some studies have actually shown
that people prefer the taste of irradiated burgers, according to Mr Eustice.
"A 2001 study conducted by the Sterling-Rice Group involving 475
participants in Atlanta and Denver showed that Hedonic scores for aroma,
juiciness, and flavour were not statistically different. And in the Atlanta
test, participants actually referred the irradiated burgers (6.8 versus
Consumer Reports said recent European research suggests that the substances
known as (2-ACBs), unique by-products created by irradiating fat in a food
such as ground beef, may act as tumour promoters in laboratory rats.
"Public Citizen's misrepresentation of the recent European research on
irradiation is repeated in the Consumer Reports article," Mr Eustice said.
"This activist group distorted the research of Dr. Henry Delincee. In an
open letter to the Food and Drug Administration, Dr. Delincee countered by
saying: 'Public Citizen's claims are not founded on scientific arguments.
They use my research to produce distrust among consumers. The benefits of
irradiation far outweigh any risk.
"As we evaluate the pros and cons of food irradiation, let's keep in mind
that there is virtually unanimous agreement in the scientific and public
health community about the benefits and safety of food irradiation," Mr
"By distorting the safety and effectiveness of food irradiation, articles
such as The Truth About Irradiated Meat do a great disservice to the public
and jeopardise the lives of innocent people --especially children and highly
Web posted: July 10, 2003
Category: Food Safety,Legislation and Regulation,Supplier & Association News