The agency said it is canvassing opinion of irradiation facilities, importers of any of the products in the seven permitted categories of food (in particular dried aromatic herbs, spices and vegetable seasonings) or manufactures of products using these imported ingredients, enforcement authorities and consumer interest groups.
The Food Irradiation (England) Regulations 2009 will provide for the requirements detailed in Directives 1999/2/EC and 1999/3/EC and will replace The Food (Control of Irradiation) Regulations 1990, explained the FSA.
However, labelling requirements for irradiated food, according to the agency, will not be amended.
The agency said that there are areas where the regulations could be made more up-to-date, such as in the definition of cereals, and it said that the new system aims to reduce the administrative burden for companies and enforcement officials.
As part of the consultation the FSA is seeking views on the categories of food authorised for irradiation in the UK, and is asking industry if there are any foods that should be added to or removed from the list.
Currently, in the UK seven categories of foods can be irradiated including fruit; vegetables; cereals; bulbs and tubers; spices and condiments (amended as dried aromatic herbs, spices and vegetable seasonings); fish and shellfish; and poultry.
However, the FSA said it could consider adding other types of food to the permitted list under Article 4(5) of Directive 1999/2/EC, but only if this food is already on the permitted list of another member state.
Third country facilities
The agency added that there were amendments to English regulations in 2000 but these did not adequately address the national procedures relating to food irradiation facilities in non-European countries, and so this has to be corrected in the new regulations.
The agency said that during the 12-week public consultation phase on the draft regulations and associated guidance, it also proposes to engage with stakeholders on a less formal basis, "in particular health food manufacturers where we are aware of concerns over illegally irradiated ingredients.”
All responses received as part of the consultation exercise, said the agency, will be given careful consideration, and will be summarised on its website.
The draft Food Irradiation (England) Regulations 2009 document can be downloaded from the FSA website.