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Proposed irradiation labeling draws fire

Too little, too late was the reaction of the National Food Processors Assn. (NFPA) to FDA's advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR) for irradiation labeling.

While applauding approval of expanded use of irradiation, NFPA said FDA should have done more than simply seek comments on a number of labeling issues. The agency should have responded to NFPA's 1998 petition, says NFPA, which argued that the current "radiation" disclosure requirements for irradiated foods are neither scientifically nor legally justified. This "warning label" approach undercuts the positive food safety benefit, NFPA argues. Both FDA and USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service, in a separate ANPR, have proposed requiring that irradiated meat products bear the radura symbol "prominently and conspicuously" in conjunction with a statement indicating the product has been treated with irradiation. According to USDA, unpackaged irradiated meat must be labeled with the radura symbol and statement either on the bulk container or some other appropriate device. When irradiated meat is one of several ingredients, the ingredient statement must indicate that the meat has been irradiated. FSIS noted it expects opposition to its proposals, specifically on labeling, and therefore had posed labeling-related questions. The agency also said it would consider approving labeling statements indicating the elimination of certain pathogens, but that such statements would require implementation of a HACCP plan and processing documentation to prove their validity. FSIS asked for comments on whether it should establish performance standards for this type of incentive labeling.

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