The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a final rule, effective April 14, 2014, amending its food additive regulations to allow the use of ionizing radiation on crustaceans (e.g., crab, shrimp, lobster, crayfish, and prawns) to control foodborne pathogens and extend shelf life.
In response to a petition first filed in 2001, FDA concluded that use of irradiation to treat chilled or frozen raw, cooked or partially cooked crustaceans, or dried crustaceans, with or without spices, minerals, inorganic salts, citrates, citric acid and/or calcium disodium EDTA used in accordance with applicable laws and regulations, is safe, provided that the absorbed dose does not exceed 6.0 kGy. At this dose, FDA notes, ionizing radiation will reduce but not entirely eliminate, the number of illness-causing microorganisms in or on crustaceans. The agency also observes that irradiation is not a substi- tute for proper food-handling practices and that crustaceans treated with ionizing radiation must be stored, handled and cooked in the same way as non-irradiated foods. In forming its assessment, the agency considered previous irradiation safety evaluations for other foods including poultry, meat, molluscan shellfish, iceberg lettuce, and fresh spinach. See Federal Register, April 14, 2014.