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ROCHESTER, N.Y. - Although discussions of irradiated ground beef have been largely obscured in the wake of the demise of San Diego-based SureBeam Corp. last January, Wegmans Food Markets is currently promoting Huisken BeSure frozen irradiated ground beef patties on its Web site.
In her current column appearing on Wegmans.com, Mary Ellen Burris, s.v.p. of consumer affairs, tells readers to look for Huisken BeSure patties -- particularly those who "are among the many people disappointed when our supplier of fresh irradiated ground beef suddenly went out of business in January of this year.
"Although SureBeam Corporation had to close their plant doors because of financial difficulties, their equipment is still in use at a Texas A&M University irradiation facility," wrote Burris.
After recapping the facts about irradiation, including the different types of processes including electron beam, X-rays, and gamma rays, Burris reminded readers that the technologies do not cause radioactivity in the food, nor does it affect the nutrients in the beef. "At doses of irradiation used to control bacteria, the nutritional changes are less than or about the same as cooking and freezing," she wrote.
Noting that "every major health organization has given the seal of approval to irradiation," Burris described Huisken Meats as "a well-established meat processor located in Minnesota, but the irradiation facility is actually in Texas."
Wegmans carries packages featuring two individually wrapped stacks of patties inside a two-pound box that contains eight quarter-pound patties that are 75 percent lean/25 percent fat. The chain sells the Huisken patties for $6.99 per package.
Prior to signing off, Burris wrote: "We remain committed to the safety and benefits of irradiation. In 2002 we were one of the earliest supporters of this process to protect against the deadly E. coli O157:H7 bacteria. We may eventually be able to offer fresh ground beef, irradiated, but for now the closest we can come is the new frozen patty."