Food Technology Service, Inc. and Colorado Boxed Beef Company (CBBC) announced that Florida residents will be the first to try irradiated fresh ground beef, now available at independent retail grocers throughout Florida.

"We want to offer consumers the safest meat available, fresh or frozen," said Steve Saterbo, Colorado's senior vice president. "And because more than 80% of customers buy fresh ground beef, not frozen, it only makes sense to rollout the fresh product first."

The fresh irradiated ground beef is being sold under Colorado's New Generation label in 1-pound and 1.5-pound Modified Atmosphere Packaging (MAP). The packaging will carry the international symbol for irradiation--the radura--a green flower inside a broken circle, which is increasingly becoming recognized as a symbol for food safety.

Irradiation is a process similar to pasteurization which uses ironizing energy to eliminate bacteria in food, such as E coli, Listeria and Salmonella. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, food-borne illness affects more than 76 million Americans annually, resulting in 5,000 deaths.

"Irradiation has proven to eliminate food-borne pathogens and prevent food-borne illness. Now consumers have the option of purchasing irradiated products and putting the safest food available on their family's table," said Dr. Richard Hunter, Health Officer, Florida Department of Public Health.

Six Florida-based retail supermarkets will begin offering consumers irradiated fresh ground beef.

"There seems to be a demand for irradiated ground beef," said Greg McClelland, manager of Mac's Meats and Produce, Winter Haven, FL. "Media has been attentive to the latest food-borne illness scares and I think that has triggered some of the requests we have received from customers for irradiated ground beef. It was a simple choice, if our customers were asking for it, we needed to carry it," he said.

In the very near future, several national retail chains will begin stocking the New Generation brand, said Pete Ellis, Food Technology Service president. The commissary at the Naval Air Station in Orlando is also offering its customers the choice of irradiated ground beef.

"Consumers use irradiated products every day and may not even realize it," said Ellis. "Medical disposable supplies, cotton balls, contact solution, and feminine hygiene products are just a few of the products that are currently irradiated. Now, with the recent USDA approval of irradiated red meat, consumers also can have their fresh ground beef irradiated for an extra measure of safety.

Food Technology Service was the first dedicated commercial food irradiator in the nation and currently irradiates the food eaten in space by NASA astronauts. In addition, Food Technology Service conducts ongoing testing and irradiation for major meat and poultry processors.

Food Technology Service, the country's most experienced commercial food irradiation company, is dedicated to preventing food-borne illness by working with the public health community and industry in a concerted, strategic effort to educate consumers about irradiation's role in food safety.

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