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ST. LOUIS and PITTSBURGH - Two regional grocers are introducing irradiated ground beef to their markets. Schnuck Markets Inc. is the first supermarket chain in the St. Louis area to sell irradiated fresh ground beef and frozen beef patties. Meanwhile, Giant Eagle is the first retailer in its core Pennsylvania and Ohio markets to offer case-ready fresh ground beef.
Cy Jansen, VP of meat merchandising at Schnucks, said the chain's metro area stores will sell fresh ground beef chubs ("chub" refers to the plastic packaging, similar to that of pork sausage) supplied by Excel, a subsidiary of Cargill of Wichita, Kan. Frozen beef patties will come from Huiskens of Saulk Rapids, Minn. The SureBeam Corporation of San Diego, Calif. will irradiate the ground beef and beef patties in their Sioux City, Iowa facility.
Jansen said irradiated ground beef is simply another choice for customers, particularly those who are the most vulnerable to infection.
Schnucks first offered SureBeam irradiated ground beef in its Peoria and Pekin, Ill. stores last winter. While sales of the product met Schnucks expectations, Jansen says education is the key to greater acceptance.
Giant Eagle supermarkets are selling SureBeam processed fresh ground beef products in one-pound case-ready packages of 80-percent and 93-percent lean.
A SureBeam spokesman estimated that his company alone has placed fresh and frozen irradiated beef in more than 4,000 grocery stores nationwide. Irradiation is also being used to reduce or eliminate bacteria in produce.
Schnuck Markets Inc. currently operates 102 stores and 93 pharmacies in Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Tennessee and Mississippi. Giant Eagle Inc. owns 124 corporate and 89 independently owned and operated stores throughout western Pennsylvania, Ohio, north central West Virginia, and Maryland.