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FDA Approves Ionizing Radiation for Sprouting Seeds.

On October 30, 2000, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that it had approved the use of ionizing radiation on seeds used for producing sprouts. The goal is to reduce pathogens in and on the seeds. While the process cannot ensure elimination of every organism, it can achieve a considerable reduction. The likelihood of viable pathogens remaining will depend both on the original microbial load and on the irradiation dose applied. The new regulation allows a dose of up to 8 kilograys (kGy). The actual dose will depend on the ability of various seeds to tolerate irradiation and remain able to sprout.

Elimination of pathogens (e.g., Salmonella, E. coli O157:H7) that have been associated with sprouts can reduce the incidence of foodborne-illness outbreaks. It was demonstrated to FDA that in seeds to which E. coli O157:H7 and Salmonella serotype Stanley had been added, irradiation at 5 kGy reduced the organisms to below detectable levels. Because the irradiation dose and the initial microbial load will determine whether any viable pathogenic organisms remain on the seed, and because irradiation does not leave any residual effect that could protect against recontamination, FDA recommends that seed distributors and sprout producers continue to follow good manufacturing practices to ensure protection against recontamination. These practices are detailed on Web sites maintained by the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition: [less than][sim]dms/sprougd1.html[greater than] and [less than][sim]dms/sprougd2.html[greater than].

Seeds for sprouting must be labeled to inform the sprout producer that the seeds have been irradiated and must not be re-irradiated. This information can appear on the label, the invoice, or the bill of lading. Sprouts grown from irradiated seeds do not have to be labeled.
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Food and Drug Administration
Publication:Journal of Environmental Health
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 1, 2001
Previous Article:New Regional Center Addresses Environmental Impacts On Children's Health.
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