Meat Industry Services

Food Safety Interventions Information

Click on the links below to access information on interventions available at each stage of the meat production process

Contents Page Introduction to Interventions On Farm Processing - hide on Processing - hide off Chilling Packaging or Retail


(A partially emerged technology)

In this process, products are exposed to Ionizing radiation- radiant energy that includes gamma rays, electron beams, and x-rays. Gamma irradiation uses high-energy gamma rays with high penetration power and thus can treat bulk foods on shipping pallets. Electron beam (E-beam) irradiation uses a stream of high-energy electrons, know as beta rays, which can penetrate only about 5 cms, while X-irradiation has intermediate penetration. Irradiation damages the bacterial cells’ genetic material, disrupting their normal functions and can result in significant extensions in shelf-life of the product treated. The biggest obstacle to irradiation as an intervention is consumer acceptance – there is a perception that irradiation is dangerous to health, which in large doses, it is, but the doses required to treat foods are tiny and considered safe.

Download more information on Irradiation

Normally packaging/retail, though whole carcasses can be treated
Intervention Type
Surface treatment for E-beam, but Gamma irradiation can penetrate deeper
Treatment Time
Approved in US, not yet approved for meat in Australia or EU
Very Good
Likely Cost
Up-front capital cost of equipment A$1,000,000 +
Value for Money
Poor in Australia unless central service facility available
Plant or Process Changes

The unit may be retro-fitted after the packing machine, but extra space may need to be provided

E-beam cabinet would require space for installation at the end of the slaughter line
Environmental Impact
The equipment requires power
Occupational Health and Safety
Irradiation units must be properly screened

E-beam radiation capable of treating whole carcasses after chilling

Easy to treat packaged primals

In-package treatment can reduce potential post-processing contamination

Good for smaller cuts such as patties and individual steaks etc

Disadvantages or Limitations

Consumer perceptions may be hard to overcome

Packs must be labelled i.e. “Treated with radiation”


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