viernes, 29 de julio de 2011

Irradiating Meat Reduces Bacteria Count to Near Zero

Irradiation is a useful tool to reduce bacteria in meet, but still has many opponents who think is not safe for consumers.

With many people concerned about the recent cases of Mad Cow disease and the safety of meat products, the research of John A. (Sean) Fox using irradiation, is not only extremely important to meat producers but also important to consumers as well.

“What consumers know about irradiation and the safety of the final product determines what price they will pay for irradiated meats,” said Fox. “Consumers are usually willing to spend an extra 15-20 cents per pound for ground beef that has undergone the irradiation process,” he said.

Education about the irradiation process is what Fox considers the top priority if there is to be a proliferation of these products. “There has to be more of a concerted effort to educate people. I would say we should be doing more. The USDA should do more.”

A meat product can be irradiated in two ways. The first involves an electron beam shooting electrons onto the product, thus, killing bacteria. The other procedure consists of exposing the meat product to radioactive cobalt. Fox says both procedures are equally safe, and reduce the bacterial count by 99 percent on a product.

Opponents of irradiated foods worry that radiation received by the meats will have harmful side effects for consumers, effects that will be seen in 20 years or so. Fox says the fears are completely unjustified.

“There is no evidence to suggest that [harmful side effects]. There is absolutely no way the product becomes radioactive. Some vitamins are lost in the process, but those are pretty much insignificant,” he said.

Many health-monitoring groups support irradiation – including the American Medical Association, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization.


Aporte: Alejandra Avendaño.

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