“This decision will be further incentive for produce growers and distributors to use the technology to enhance their business and in some cases avoid the possibility that some of their customers might get ill from E. coli or salmonella,” Eustice said.
He said using irradiation for phytosanitary treatment of fresh produce has increase markedly in the past few years, from perhaps about 10 million pounds in 2009 to close to 40 million pounds now. An irradiation facility in Gulfport, Miss., is experiencing success in treating imported produce, he said.
Irradiation is now used to treat tropical fresh produce from various countries for pest disinfestation, he said. Consumers don’t hesitate to purchase irradiated items such as Mexican guava, Eustice said.
The cost of irradiation, at pennies per pound, is much less than the cost of defending the credibility and image of a company after a food safety incident, he said.