June 26, 2022

Shellfish Irradiation To Reduce Food Poisoning Gets FDA Nod

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the use of ionizing radiation to kill foodborne pathogens on crustacean shellfish and extend their shelf life. The April 11 decision is in response to a food additive petition submitted by the National Fisheries Institute 13 years ago.

irradiated-symbolThe decision will allow processors of crustaceans including crab, shrimp, lobster, crayfish, and prawns use small amounts of ionizing radiation to reduce, but not eliminate, dangerous foodborne bacteria such as E.coli, Vibrio and Listeria.  The maximum permitted dose is 6.0 kiloGray.

The rule covers shellfish sold raw, frozen, shelled, dried, cooked and partially cooked. It also covers crustaceans processed with spices or a small number of other ingredients.

Irradiation has been approved for use on other foods including  poultry, meat, mollusks, iceberg lettuce, and fresh spinach. Like those foods, shellfish that have been irradiated are required to bear the international symbol for irradiation (shown at right) and carry the statement “Treated with radiation” or “Treated by irradiation” on the food label to notify consumers. For irradiated shellfish sold unpackaged, the logo and phrase must be displayed on the labeling of the bulk container. Restaurants are not required to disclose whether the shellfish they serve has been irradiated. Multi-ingredient foods are also exempt from the labeling rule.


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