Titan Corp. (San Diego, CA) announced that it is building an E-beam "electronic pasteurization" facility in Sioux City, IA, specifically designed for food product irradiation. The plant is expected to be operational by late fall, in anticipation of USDA's final ruling on irradiation of meat and meat products expected soon. The facility is the first E-beam system specifically designed to pasteurize ground beef, according to Gene Ray, president and CEO Titan Corp.

The patented system, called SuperBeam, will irradiate fresh and frozen products in chub, patty or shelf-ready tray packs. Titan estimates product cost increases to the consumer to be one to two cent per pound depending on volume and distribution.

Titan already has exclusivity agreements with several major beef producers who plan to use the facility following USDA's final posting. While Ray was reluctant to provide names, two companies announced their intention to test market irradiated beef with Titan within a day of Titan's announcement. IBP and Excel (a unit of Cargill) have both confirmed they will be using the Sioux City facility once USDA issues its ruling for test marketing irradiated ground beef. ConAgra is still exploring the option, according to ConAgra spokesperson Lynn Phares. To most proponents of food irradiation, and in light of the recent Sara Lee and Thorn Apple Valley recalls, it is only a matter of time before the rest of the industry jumps on the bandwagon.

Besides the facility in Sioux City, Titan can install SuperBeam systems on-line in processing plants with no reduction in production rates, Ray said.

Titan Corp., Tel.: (619) 552-9500