FDA approves pet food X-rays

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) considers the sterilization technique “irradiation” to be a food additive, because the products are blasted with radioactive materials that can kill bacteria in food.


The petition, officially acknowledged by the regulator last year, asked regulators to consider making legal the use of electronic beams and X-rays to irradiate chicken feed.

Only certain types of gamma rays are currently used to treat the food fed to chicken, according to federal law, but the new regulations would allow Iowa-based company SADEX to use its self-described proprietary “electron beam” (e-beam) irradiation, or “cold pasteurization.”

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The company says the technology doesn’t use chemicals or radiation, which is a main complaint of the practice from environmental and public health advocates.

“For every $1 of e-beam treatment invested in, $2 of medical service due to food borne illness is saved per consumer,” SADEX says on its website. “Corporately, E-beam irradiation technology prevents undesirable recalls leading to corporate liability and litigation.”

In its final rule, the FDA writes that the new regulations do not “individually or cumulatively have a significant effect on the human environment.”

Those opposed to the rule have 30 days to write to the agency.