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April 16, 2014

United States

Washington, DC—FDA Approves Radiation of Crustaceans

 

In the first week of April 2014, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the radiation of crustaceans—shrimp, crab and lobster—to control pathogens and extend shelf life.  As part of the approval, FDA says radiated crustaceans must carry the bright green radura symbol, the international symbol for radiation.  This is generally sufficient to frighten consumers out of their wits, so the symbol and radiation are not widely used in foods where they have been approved.  For example, radiation has been approved for oysters, clams, mussels and scallops, but the widespread use by the oyster industry of other purification techniques—including pressure treatment to control Vibrios—has meant radiation has not been widely adopted.

 

The new rule covers raw, frozen, cooked, partially cooked, shelled, dried and ready-to-cook crustaceans processed with spices or small amounts of other food ingredients.

 

FDA said: “At the maximum permitted dose this new use of ionizing radiation will reduce, but not entirely eliminate, the number of pathogenic microorganisms in or on crustaceans.  The maximum dosage of radiation approved is capable of reducing a number of pathogens that may be found in crustaceans, including Listeria, Vibrio, and E. coli.  Radiation is not a substitute for proper food-handling practices; therefore crustaceans treated with ionizing radiation must be stored, handled, and cooked in the same way as non-radiated foods.”

 

“We require that radiated foods bear the international symbol for radiation (radura) and carry the statement “Treated with Radiation” or “Treated by Radiation” on the food label.”

 

“For foods not in package form, the logo and phrase must be displayed to the purchaser with either the labeling of the bulk container plainly in view or a counter sign, car, or other appropriate device bearing the information that the product has been treated with radiation.  We do not require that multi-ingredient foods that contain ingredients that have been radiated (e.g., spices) be labeled if the food itself has not been radiated, nor do we require labeling of radiated food served in restaurants.”

 

Because there is no requirement for labeling radiated food in restaurants, this represents a potential avenue for more usage of radiation.  However, anecdotally we have heard that some companies think radiation may compromise quality in crabmeat.

 

Also the process can be costly.  A company that radiates ground beef was not able to stay in business due to the high costs—about 8 cents a pound—and consumer resistance.

 

The petition to the FDA to approve irradiation of crustaceans was initiated by the National Fisheries Institute, which also got FDA to approve radiation of molluscan shellfish.

 

There is a radiation facility in the Gulfport-Biloxi, Mississippi, USA, airport that is used by Crystal Seas Oysters, which fishes, processes and markets oysters, to produce live, in-shell, radiated oysters.  Information: Crystal Seas Oysters, P.O. Box 717, 166 W. North Street, Pass Christian, Mississippi 39571, USA (phone 1-228-452-2722, fax 1-228-452-0801, webpage http://www.crystalseasoysters.com/#!/crystal-clear).

 

Source: Seafood.com (an online, subscription-based, fisheries news service).  Editor and Publisher, John Sackton (phone 1-781-861-1441, email jsackton@seafood.com).  FDA Expands Irradiation to Crustaceans; i.e. Crab, Shrimp, Lobster, but Requires Radiation Symbol.  John Sackton.  April 15, 2014.

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