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The Egg and "I".

The Food and Drug Administration has announced new rules allowing for the irradiation of fresh shell eggs in order to reduce Salmonella, including S. enteritidis. Notification of the rulemaking was published in the July 21,2000, Federal Register. Despite the FDA's request solely for comments in opposition, Consumer Alert has filed supportive comments.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, one in 20,000 eggs contains Salmonella bacteria. In the Northeast, this figure is higher -- about one in 10,000. Salmonella can be passed on from the mother chicken to the inside of her egg. Irradiation gives consumers concerned about salmonella the option to choose food that has gone through an additional step to ensure safety.

The FDA's action on eggs follows decisions in the 1990s by FDA and U.S. Department of Agriculture to allow irradiation of meat and poultry. The first foodstuff government-approved for irradiation was wheat flour in 1963. Irradiation is similar to pasteurization of dairy products in that it kills virtually all harmful bacteria without creating dangerous new substances and leaving the nutritional value of the food essentially unchanged. Pathogen reduction via irradiation is also used on such foods as white potatoes, pork, fruits and vegetables, herbs, and spices. Irradiation is supported by a number of health groups, including the World Health Organization, the American Dietetic Association, and the American Medical Association.

FDA found "there is little change in the levels of individual fatty acids, or in the structure, digestibility, or biological value of protein, when shell eggs are treated with ionizing radiation up to 3 kiloGray (kGy)." According to the FDA, irradiation of eggs may slightly change the viscosity of the eggs, making the egg whites more milky and runny. This can make the egg not as effective in some recipes, such as angel food cake. Consumers should take this trade-off into account in deciding whether to purchase irradiated eggs.

Whether or not it's necessary, irradiated eggs will be labeled as such, marked with the radura symbol found on existing irradiated foods. The change in regulation to support fresh shell egg irradiation was made in response to a petition by irradiation researcher Edward S. Josephson of the University of Rhode Island's Food Science and Nutrition Research Center.
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Title Annotation:irradiation to stop salmonella
Publication:Consumer Comments
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 1, 2000
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