The White House’s Office of Management and Budget has approved federal rules permitting the irradiation of imported fruit and vegetables.

The rules are called the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) rules and will now be forwarded to the US Federal Register for publication, reported Dow Jones Newswires. The Federal Register contains the government’s rules and regulations and decrees how government programmes are operated.

Shares in irradiation technology company SureBeam soared 40% in Friday trading, as the company has four agreements to sell its equipment to foreign customers once the rules are enacted. Gerard Klauer Mattison analyst Stephen Levenson is quoted as saying that SureBeam is in negotiations with a further 11 sales prospects.

Larry Oberkfell, SureBeam’s president and chief executive, said in a phone interview with Dow Jones Newswires that he couldn’t discuss the potential parties that SureBeam is in talks with, but indicated that each machine would run between US$6m and $9m apiece.

Meanwhile San Diego-based SureBeam announced that Supervalu subsidiary Farm Fresh started stocking its irradiated fresh ground beef in its 37 stores.