The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said today that it is allowing ionizing radiation on crustaceans like crab, shrimp, lobster, and crayfish to control foodborne pathogens and extend shelf life.

The agency said it based its decision on a “rigorous safety assessment” that considered potential toxicity, the effect of irradiation on nutrients, and the potential microbiological risk. It also factored in previous evaluations of the safety of irradiating other foods, including poultry, meat, mollusks, lettuce, and spinach.

The rule covers raw, frozen, cooked, partially cooked, shelled, and dried crustaceans, as well as cooked or ready-to-cook crustaceans processed with spices or small amounts of other food ingredients.

“At the maximum permitted dose of 6.0 kiloGray, this new use of ionizing radiation will reduce, but not entirely eliminate, the number of pathogenic (illness causing) microorganisms in or on crustaceans,” the FDA said in a constituent update. “The maximum dosage of irradiation approved is capable of reducing a number of pathogens that may be found in crustaceans, including Listeria, Vibrio,and E coli.”

The agency said the technique is not a substitute for proper food handling. All foods that undergo ionizing irradiation must be labeled with the international symbol for irradiation (called the radura) and the statement “Treated with radiation” or “Treated by irradiation.”

According to a notice that will be published in the Federal Register on Apr 14, the FDA is taking comments on the rule till May 15.