Safe Handling of Irradiated Meats and Poultry

Although the process of irradiation eliminates many pathogenic organisms from meats and poultry, these products still must be handled properly to ensure food safety.
Safe Handling of Irradiated Meats and Poultry - Articles

Updated: March 1, 2005

Safe Handling of Irradiated Meats and Poultry

Irradiated meat has fewer pathogens than untreated meat. Handle it carefully so you keep the added safety. If you mishandle the product, bacterial contamination can reoccur.

Follow these steps to ensure a safe product:

  1. Take product home quickly after purchase and refrigerate it.
  2. Store it on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator. Keep it separate from other meat.
  3. Wash your hands and all work surfaces with hot soapy water before preparing it.
  4. Use clean utensils and cutting boards for preparation. Clean these before using them with other foods.
  5. Cook the meat to recommended temperatures. Use a thermometer to determine when it is sufficiently cooked.

    Poultry (whole bird): 180°F.
    Ground turkey: 165°F.
    Ground beef: 160°F.

  6. Store leftovers in the refrigerator promptly.

Irradiated meat and poultry can reduce your risk of exposure to disease-causing bacteria (called pathogens). This is especially beneficial to

  • older individuals with increased sensitivity to foodborne illness
  • pregnant women
  • young children
  • those who are ill or undergoing medical treatments

Remember, you still have to handle irradiated meat and poultry carefully to keep this benefit.

Prepared by J. Lynne Brown, associate professor food science, and Wei Qin, food science graduate student.


J. Lynne Brown, Ph.D., R.D.