The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is amending current food additive regulations to allow the safe use of ionising radiation on crustaceans, including crab, shrimp, prawns and lobster, to control foodborne pathogens and extend shelf life.
The amendment has been made in response to a petition from the National Fisheries Institute and follows a rigorous safety assessment taking into account potential toxicity, the effect of irradiation on nutrients and the potential microbiological risk. Safety evaluations for irradiation of other foods, such as poultry, meat and certain fresh produce, were also considered in the assessment.
The maximum permitted dose of ionising radiation will be 6.0 kiloGray, which will reduce, but not completely eliminate, pathogenic microorganisms in crustaceans. This dose can be used to control bacterial pathogens, including Listeria, Vibrio and E. coli, but the FDA emphasises that irradiation is not a substitute for good food handling practice and hygiene in processing. Irradiated crustaceans will also have to be clearly labelled as such.
More information about the FDA amendment can be found here.