Food Science and Technology Department


Date of this Version



United States Atomic Energy Commission


Red meat, as exemplified by ground beef and pork, is subject to numerous opportunities for contamination and harborage of pathogenic organisms with the present commercial system of processing and distribution. An exploration was undertaken therefore to determine the usefulness of gamma irradiation for public health protection when applied to red meat. This work indicated that retail products are commonly heavily contaminated. The contamination can be reduced somewhat through central processing as shown by the data obtained from ground beef. Considerable numbers of the contaminants can be destroyed by irradiation at a 68 Krad level.
This work indicates that commercial ground red meat contained a great diversity of contaminants, many of which belong to the family Enterobacteriaceae. Of most interest are salmonellae and other pathogens of lesser notoriety. Many of these organisms are Quite sensitive to gamma radiation. While a 68 Krad level of radiation likely will not destroy all these pathogens, a substantial reduction in numbers is possible. Future use of higher dosage should destroy more microorganisms and add further to public health protection.

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