Food pasteurization facility planned for late 2000

SteriGenics Intl. (Memphis, TN) expects a new “state-of-the-art” X-ray food pasteurization plant to be operational in Bridgeport, NJ, by the fourth quarter of this year.

SteriGenics, an Ion Beam Applications company, will use IBA’s proprietary Rhodotron® accelerator technology, which delivers either electron-beam or X-ray energy from a single machine at different voltage levels. The process is subject to the same regulations the Food & Drug Adminstration has for any irradiation source, says SteriGenics president Patterson Adams. The irradiation process typically uses one of three methods of ionizing energy—X-ray, electron beam or gamma rays.

Adams explains, “X-ray pasteurization effectively [accommodates] products that are too thick to be processed with e-beam and allows products to be [packaged] in their standard finished cartons, eliminating increased packaging costs and handling expenses.”

The high-volume, high-power food pasteurization process exposes food to measured amounts of X-rays. Its use, the company says, extends shelf life and kills bacteria such as E. Coli, Campylobacter, Salmonella and Listeria. Unlike gamma irradiation, the X-ray method does not use cobalt as an energy source.

When Packaging World asked Adams if any agreements had been reached with food processors, he commented, “none that I’m willing to announce.” Companies would send food to the Bridgeport facility for irradiation.

As this issue of PW went to press, the American Meat Institute issued an electronic press release applauding U.S. Department of Agriculture’s announcement that “a final rule permitting the use of irradiation on single-ingredient red meat products will be unveiled before the end of [1999].”

The e-mail quotes AMI president J. Patrick Boyle: “We expect that irradiated products will be available on a limited basis in select markets within months of the rule’s effective date. The labeling requirements in the rule will help consumers easily identify irradiated products.” Washington, DC-based AMI represents the interests of meat packers, processors and suppliers throughout North America.

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