Meat Irradiation Technology Usage: Challenges and Recommendations from Expert Interviews
Although developed to improve microbial food safety and used in the space program, irradiation is not used as widely as its potential advantages would indicate. Consumer acceptance of this technology has been studied since the 1980s, but few have examined the barriers to the use of this technology in the meat industry. This paper reports findings from expert interviews that explored the barriers and strategies of food irradiation usage in the meat industry in the United States. In Phase 1, a cohort of 13 experts participated in interviews to identify the barriers and motivators of irradiation usage; in Phase 2, a cohort of 23 experts participated in interviews to evaluate information sheets and provide recommendations for the next step of information extension and technology utilization. The belief that consumers will not accept irradiated meat was identified as the major barrier to using irradiation. Experts concurred that consumer education is crucial for the adoption of food technologies such as irradiation. They recommended that trade associations, government agencies, and university extension should utilize digital and social media to advocate the use of less understood food technologies such as irradiation.
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