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AMI APPLAUDS ANNOUNCEMENT OF FINAL RULE ON IRRADIATION
Institute Says Irradiation Will Be Additional Tool in the Food Safety Toolbox


Washington, DC, December 14, 1999 – The American Meat Institute (AMI) today applauded USDA’s announcement that a final rule permitting the use of irradiation on single ingredient red meat products will be unveiled before the end of the year.

“This is a long-awaited day for consumers and for the meat industry,” said AMI President J. Patrick Boyle. “Prestigious groups like the American Medical Association and the World Health Organization have long endorsed irradiation for meat products, and the technology is used in nearly 40 nations around the world. We are gratified that Americans will soon be able to choose irradiated red meat products.”

He noted that scientific research has shown that irradiation is very useful in destroying harmful germs on meat products. “Irradiation will be a useful tool in the food safety toolbox,” Boyle said. “It provides an extra margin of safety along with the many technologies that are now used routinely – and will continue to be used -- by our industry.”

Boyle said that the Institute’s research has shown that the more consumers understand about irradiation’s value in destroying germs, the more they are willing to accept it and even pay more for it. But he noted that it is imperative that the federal government play a significant role in educating consumers – especially those most at risk for foodborne illness -- about its benefits.

“We expect that irradiated products will be available on a limited basis in select markets within months of the rule’s effective date. The labeling requirements in the rule will help consumers easily identify irradiated products and enable them to make the choices that are best for themselves and their families.”

“Ultimately, consumers’ purchase behavior will drive the availability of this product,” Boyle said. “If consumers embrace the product, the industry is in the business of meeting consumer demand and we will respond with more irradiated products.”

Boyle also noted that the rule will not apply to processed meats like hot dogs and luncheon meats, although an industry petition is pending to permit its use on these products. “It is imperative that the government move swiftly to respond to our August 1999 petition. We cannot wait another five years, as we have for this rule.”

AMI represents the interests of packers and processors of beef, pork, lamb, veal and turkey products and their suppliers throughout North America. Headquartered in Washington, DC, the Institute provides legislative, regulatory and public relations services, conducts scientific and economic research, offers marketing and technical assistance and sponsors education programs.


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