In Canada, the Government of Canada published final regulations permitting the sale of fresh and frozen raw ground beef treated with irradiation. Health Canada developed the new regulations after conducting a thorough assessment, and concluded that irradiation is a safe and effective treatment to reduce harmful bacteria in ground beef.
The United States has permitted the irradiation of fresh and frozen ground beef since 1999, and more than 60 countries worldwide permit irradiation of various foods. It is already approved in Canada to treat potatoes, onions, wheat, flour, spices and seasoning preparations. Irradiation is intended to complement rather than replace existing food safety practices, such as appropriate handling, storage and sanitation.
During irradiation, food is exposed to low levels of ionizing radiation that has the effect of reducing harmful bacteria. Ground beef that is irradiated retains its nutritional value, taste, texture and appearance while also retaining a longer shelf life.