E-beamFood Production Daily reports that low levels of irradiation can reduce pathogen levels, including the potentially deadly E. coli, in carcasses used for ground beef, claim researchers.

A low dose, low penetration electron beam (E-beam) irradiation penetrating 15 millimetres below the surface of a carcass can effectively reduce pathogens, found Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists at the Roman L Hruska Meat Animal Research Centre in the US.

Pathogens are most prevalent on the surface of a carcass, but the risk of sub-surface contamination is high in ground beef because it is mixed so thoroughly.

Penetrating meat with E-beams instead of current methods of washing the surface of carcasses could therefore be more effective in reducing pathogens.