The US Defense Department has added irradiated ground beef and poultry products to its authorisation lists for food procurement.

Industry experts argue that the use of irradiation technology is to provide an additional layer of safety for the US armed forces, and the announcement was issued just one week after the US Postal Service approached San Diego-based SureBeam Corp to use similar irradiation technology in its battle against anthrax-infected mail.

SureBeam's electron beam technology uses ordinary electricity to zap food products while in their final packaging, to eliminate food-borne bacteria, such as E. coli O157:H7, listeria, campylobacter and salmonella, and prevent recontamination or cross contamination.