XL Foods meat recall revives food irradiation idea via CBC News

Microbiobiologists claim practice is safe

ood irradiation could help stem the safety risks that result in massive recalls like the recent one involving Alberta’s XL Foods Inc., experts say.

The century-old technology is routinely used on dried spices and flour in Canada and is approved to stop sprouting in onions and potatoes.

When food is irradiated, the food never touches the radioactive source itself. The food is briefly exposed to alpha or gamma rays that kill E. coli, salmonella and other microbes.

Public health authorities like the World Health Organization, U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Health Canada have all cleared food irradiation for safety but protests worldwide shut down plans to expand its use to meat.

After beef samples from the XL Foods plant in Brooks, Alta., tested positive for E. coli O157:H7 last month, microbiologists renewed their push for irradiation, a technology patented in 1905.

“Radiation’s one of those things that’s naturally, quote, dreaded,” said Tim Sly, a professor at the School of Occupational and Public Health at Ryerson University in Toronto. “You just have to say the word and people take their loved ones and run to the hills, but in fact, it’s not that much of a problem at all.”

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