Health Canada Friday announced it'll start consultation on a proposal to allow irradiation of fresh and frozen ground beef to enhance food safety.

After a thorough safety review, Health Canada has determined that ground beef treated with irradiation is safe to eat and retains its nutritional value, taste, texture and appearance.

An Independent Expert Advisory Panel reviewed the 2012 XL Foods recall, the largest beef recall in Canadian history, and made several recommendations to strengthen the food safety system, including allowing the beef industry to submit a proposal to Health Canada to permit irradiation as an effective food safety tool.

Irradiation exposes food to low doses of ionizing radiation. This can have several benefits to food safety, including reducing the level of bacteria such as E. coli, Salmonella and Campylobacter.

Irradiation is already approved in Canada to treat potatoes, onions, wheat, flour, spices and seasoning preparations. Irradiation has also been used as a sterilization technique for medical supplies, food packaging materials and cosmetic ingredients for many years.

Canadians will be consulted on the proposed regulatory changes that would permit the irradiation of ground beef for a 75 day consultation period, ending on September 1, 2016.