This follows an annual inspection of the company's facilities by MAFF inspectors to ensure that all aspects of the licence, including those specifying safety aspects of the irradiation process, are fully complied with. The company has also been subject to on-going inspection, at the same plant, by the Medicines Control Agency and the Medical Devices Agency in relation to the irradiation of medical, pharmaceutical supplies and laboratory animal feed.
The Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, the Secretary of State for Health and the Secretary of State for Wales, acting jointly as the Licensing authority under the Food (Control of Irradiation) Regulations 1990, have granted a continuation of a food irradiation licence to Isotron PLC.
Food irradiation has the potential to offer benefits in reducing the risk from harmful micro-organisms such as Salmonella, while helping to prevent food spoilage and waste.
The Government is committed to ensuring that consumers are able to choose for themselves whether or not they want to buy irradiated food. The Food Labelling Regulations 1996 require all foods, or listed ingredients of foods, which have been irradiated to be clearly labelled.
The Food (Control of Irradiation) Regulations 1990 came into force on 1 January 1991, establishing a strict licensing system for food irradiation plants in Great Britain. Under the provisions of the Food Labelling Regulations, all foods, or listed ingredients of foods, which have been irradiated, have to carry a clear indication of the treatment using the specified words "irradiated" or "treated with ionising radiation". Isotron is licensed to irradiate to a maximum overall average dose of 10 kiloGray for:
The licence is not transferable and contains detailed conditions relating to plant design, lay out and operation, including microbiological quality, dose, packaging materials, record keeping and documentation. These conditions cannot be varied without formal application to and approval by the Licensing Authority.
Isotron plc's Swindon plant remains the only licensed food irradiation premises in the UK. Further details of the two previous licences issued to Isotron plc were given in MAFF Food Safety Directorate News Releases FSD 38/91 (12 June 1991) and FSD 38/92 (15 July 1992). Notice of the Licensing Authority's grant of the continuation licence is being made in the London and Edinburgh Gazettes, as required under the Food (Control of Irradiation) Regulations 1990. Isotron's licence will expire on 27 September 2001.