Three U.S. retail grocery chains — Tops Markets, Giant Eagle and Schnuck Markets — are adding irradiated ground beef to their offerings.

Amherst, NY,-based Tops Markets added irradiated, fresh ground beef in January. The Buffalo News reports the product will make up 5% of Tops Markets' ground beef offerings and is expected to cost 20¢ to 30¢ more per pound than regular ground beef.

Tops Markets is a member of the Ahold family of grocery stores and operates 150 Tops Friendly Markets, 212 convenience stores under the Wilson Farms, Sugarcreek and Tops Xpress banners and eight B-Kwik Food Markets in New York, Pennsylvania and northeast Ohio.

Meanwhile, Pittsburgh, PA,-based Giant Eagle is the first supermarket retailer in western Pennsylvania and Ohio to offer case-ready, fresh, irradiated product, reports The product will initially be on sale in Pittsburgh and other locations throughout a four-state area.

Giant Eagle is one of the nation's largest food retailers and distributors with more than $4.4 billion in annual sales. It consists of 124 corporate and 90 franchised supermarkets in western Pennsylvania, Ohio, north-central West Virginia and Maryland.

Meanwhile, Schnuck Markets has begun selling irradiated fresh ground beef and frozen beef patties in its St. Louis metro stores, and plans to expand the program outside the metro area in the near future. The product is also available in stores in Carbondale, IL, and Columbia, Jefferson City and Cape Girardeau, MO. Previously, Schnuck offered irradiated ground beef in its Peoria and Pekin, IL, stores.

St. Louis, MO,-based Schnuck Markets operates 102 stores in Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Tennessee and Mississippi. It had $2.1 billion in sales in 2001.