The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published two final rules today in response to petitions filed in 1999 with USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS).  These final rules increase the maximum dose of ionizing radiation permitted in the treatment of refrigerated and frozen poultry products and permit ionizing radiation in unrefrigerated meat products.  The rules also clarify the poultry products covered by FDA’s radiation regulations and remove the limitations prohibiting the exclusion of oxygen in the packaging used for irradiated poultry.

Under the first final rule, fresh (non-frozen) poultry products may be treated with radiation at up to absorbed doses of 4.5 kGy, and frozen poultry products may be treated with radiation at up to absorbed doses of 7.0 kGy.  This change aligns the levels of radiation permitted in refrigerated and frozen meat and poultry products.  The final rule will also permit the use of ionizing radiation to control foodborne pathogens in unrefrigerated uncooked meat, meat byproducts, and certain meat food products with absorbed levels not to exceed 4.5 kGy.  Previously, ionizing radiation could be used for only refrigerated and frozen meat products.

In the second final rule, FDA clarified that irradiation may be used to treat fresh or frozen uncooked, ready to cook whole poultry carcasses, and ready to cook disjointed poultry portions or parts, including ground poultry.  The poultry portions or parts may contain non-fluid seasonings.  This rule also removes the limitation that any packaging used during irradiation of poultry shall not exclude oxygen.

 The first  final rule is available here and the second here.