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Health Canada begins consultation on irradiation of ground beef

Health Canada is launching a consultation on allowing irradiation of ground beef.
Health Canada is launching a consultation on allowing irradiation of ground beef. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot

OTTAWA – Health Canada is starting a 75-day consultation over a proposal to allow the irradiation of fresh and frozen ground beef as a food safety measure.

Industry groups have sought irradiation for more than a decade as a way to prevent the spread of E. coli, salmonella and other dangerous bacteria, but the measure has run into negative public reaction.

READ MORE: What is irradiated beef and is it healthy?

Health Canada says it has done a thorough safety review and says irradiated beef is safe to eat and maintains its food value, taste, texture and appearance.

Irradiation is already approved in Canada to treat potatoes, onions, wheat, flour, whole or ground spices and dehydrated seasoning preparations; irradiated products are also required to be labelled as such.

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WATCH: Health Canada says irradiation improves food safety, but what exactly is irradiated beef? 
What is irradiated beef and is it safe?
What is irradiated beef and is it safe?

The 75-day consultation period will seek comment from the public and stakeholders.

Health Canada says irradiation is an optional tool meant to complement, not replace, existing food safety processing standards and practices, such as appropriate handling, sanitation and storage.