FDA Could Allow Irradiation of Fresh Produce to Fight Foodborne Pathogens

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced a final rule on Aug. 22 amending the food additive regulations to provide for the safe use of ionizing radiation for the control of foodborne pathogens and extension of shelf-life in fresh iceberg lettuce and fresh spinach. FDA has determined that this use of ionizing radiation will not adversely affect the safety of the food.

This final rule is a partial response to a food additive petition (FAP 9M4697) that had been filed by the National Food Processors Association (now the Grocery Manufacturers’ Association) on behalf of the Food Irradiation Coalition.  In 2007, the petitioner requested a response to a part of the original scope of the petition while the remainder would remain under review.  Specifically, the petitioner requested a response to amend the food additive regulations to provide for the safe use of ionizing radiation for the control of food-borne pathogens and extension of shelf-life in fresh iceberg lettuce and fresh spinach up to a maximum absorbed dose of 4.0 kilogray (kGy).

This final rule will permit the irradiation of fresh iceberg lettuce and fresh spinach to a maximum absorbed dose of 4.0 kGy, which is effective in reducing microbial pathogens that have been associated with these crops in the past.

There will be a 30-day period for submitting objections or a request for a hearing to Docket No. FDA-1999-F-2405] (formerly 1999F-5522). Electronic objections may be submitted to the Federal eRulemaking Portal at http://www.regulations.gov or written submissions may be sent to the Dockets Management Branch (HFA-305), Food and Drug Administration, 5630 Fishers Lane, Room 1061, Rockville, Md. 20852.

Additional information regarding the final rule is available by contacting Dr. Lane A. Highbarger at the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition at (301) 436-1204.

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