IBA's Food Safety Division yesterday announced that it fully supports the petition submitted to the FDA by the National Fisheries Institute (NFI) which aims to allow the choice of irradiation treatment for crustacean seafood products.

IBA Food Safety, together with MDS Nordion Inc. and the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, joins with the NFI to work towards achieving this organization's objective: to provide shrimp, crab, lobster and crawfish producers with the best technological means to ensure effective seafood safety.

"We believe that producers of crustacean food should be able to choose the best technology available and that consumers should be able to opt for the safest seafood product," said Chip Colonna, vice president of perishable foods, IBA Food Safety Division. "IBA irradiation technology -- whether this be electron beam, X-ray or gamma -- can help reduce the risk of contamination in seafood and we are pleased that the NFI is taking the lead to extend irradiation technology to these types of products."

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that an estimated 76 million people contract a food-borne illness each year and over 325,000 are hospitalized. By extending irradiation technology to seafood products, contamination risks could be considerably reduced.

Irradiation is approved by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It is also endorsed by the World Health Organization (WHO), the American Medical Association, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the Food & Agricultural Organization of the United Nations.

During the irradiation process, food is exposed to a precisely controlled amount of radiant energy (electron-beam, X-ray or gamma) that effectively destroys harmful microscopic bacterial pathogens without affecting the food's nutritional content, taste or texture.

In the United States, irradiation technology has already been approved by the FDA to treat poultry, red meat, vegetables and more recently eggs, and has been shown to be an extremely powerful weapon against disease-provoking bacteria such as Listeria and Salmonella.

With more than 1100 employees at 47 different sites in 12 countries on three continents, IBA is a recognized world leader in the areas of Sterilization & Ionization, Advanced Radiotherapy and Radioisotopes.

The IBA Food Safety Division is headquartered in Memphis, Tenn., and the IBA corporate offices are located in Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium.

IBA has formed a strategic alliance with Ecolab Inc., world leader in critical environment sanitation systems and services, to provide food processors with one comprehensive resource for integrated, multiple intervention food safety programs. Ecolab offerings include the latest in advanced detergents and sanitizers, automated systems to improve operational efficiencies, employee hygiene programs, and patented food surface treatment products. Combined with IBA's leading-edge food irradiation technology and support services, these represent the most comprehensive food safety program available today.

Additional information about IBA can also be obtained on www.iba.be