Food-safety experts say outbreaks of E-coli illness among customers of two restaurant chains might have been prevented if the food had been treated with radiation to sterilize it. A business opened to irradiate food in Sioux City went bankrupt in 2004, but has reopened with a new owner.
David Corbin is C-E-O of the Sadex Corporation, which took over the SureBeam plant. Corbin says a couple of factors made them reopen theplant. First, there seem to be more and more well-documented instances of food-borne illness. Second, he says he thinks people’s attitudes toward safety have changed since the terrorist attacks of Nine-Eleven. Plus, people are more familiar with the technology and how it’s used.
As a matter of fact, he says people are eating tens of millions of pounds of irradiated food a day, and adds with a chuckle, “That food is irradiated by a microwave.” Corbin explains microwaves use a form of radiation, and he says it’s just a case of educating people about the technology and how it’s going to benefit them. He says some products have won acceptance already — for a long time we’ve bought seasonings and spices that were irradiated to preserve them.
Producers of premium meat products want to offer their customers quality and also a long “shelf life.” He says that’s why companies like Schwan’s, Omaha Steaks and Colorado Boxed Beef are irradiating their products. Hundreds of people got food poisoning in 1994 from ice cream produced at a Schwan’s plant in Minnesota that was traced to non-pasteurized eggs carried in a tanker truck.
The SureBeam plant’s been operating again for over a year according to Corbin, who says they have several regional customers.
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