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Public Citizen files complaint against irradiated meat company

March 22, 2003
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Consumer watchdog Public Citizen has filed a false advertising complaint to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) alleging that the web site of Huisken Meats Inc. tells consumers that its ground beef products have been electronically pasteurized instead of irradiated.

The Chandler, Minn.-based Huisken was one of the nation's first producers of irradiated ground beef. Its is also one of the largest, with its pre-packaged patties reportedly available in 1,000 stores in 14 states.

Although Huisken complies with federal law by indicating "treated by irradiation'' on its ground beef packages, the company's web site states that the ground beef is electronically pasteurized. Federal law requires irradiated food to be labeled as such, but the law is currently under review by the Food and Drug Administration. The National Food Processors Association (NFPA) and other food industry groups have lobbied the FDA and Congress to allow irradiated food to be labeled as "electronically pasteurized" or "cold pasteurized," but Public Citizen argues that "pasteurization" is a completely different process.

Besides filing a complaint with the FTC, Public Citizen has written a letter to Huisken president Rod Huisken requesting that the web site be changed to comply with federal law.

Under the U.S. Federal Trade Commission Act, false advertising is punishable through criminal and civil penalties, including fines, injunctions and corrective advertising.

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