The Canadian Cattlemen's Association (CCA) has received a favorable recommendation from Health Canada on its petition to permit the irradiation of ground beef in Canada, moving the process a step closer to final regulatory approval. "Health Canada approved the technological application, which moves approval a step closer. But it still needs to wind its way through the regulatory process," said Cindy McCreath, communications manager for CCA.

The petition must now be published in the Canada Gazette so that the public may comment on the proposed regulations. Health Canada will then make any changes it sees fit, re-post the petition in the Gazette, and presumably seek final approval from the federal government. The petition was submitted nearly three years ago, shortly after red meat was approved for irradiation in the United States.

"Irradiation of red meat has been approved in the United States for the past three years," said Ben Thorlakson, CCA past president. "This favorable recommendation moves Canadian consumers a step closer to benefiting from the same food safety options as Americans. While full approval and availability of irradiated ground beef on store shelves is still some way off, we're encouraged by Health Canada's response and feel confident the CCA submission is on track and will receive full approval in a timely fashion." Health Canada has also given a favorable recommendation to petitions requesting approval for irradiation of poultry and some seafood. Irradiation in Canada is approved for potatoes, flour, and spices.

"Used in combination with other safe food production measures, irradiated food is especially beneficial for the elderly, invalids, and others more seriously at risk from food-borne illness," said Thorlakson.

The Canadian Cattlemen's Association represents approximately 100,000 of Canada's beef producers.