What is Irradiation? Why is it important…..
Taking a Closer Look at FOOD IRRADIATION
Industry’s Answer to a Safer Food Supply
Food irradiation is a well-researched method of treating food in order to make it safer to eat and longer lasting.
This information sheet has been sponsored by the Canadian Spice Association to help clarify some of the mystery of Food Irradiation and to help you understand its relationship to food quality.
What is Food Irradiation?
Food Irradiation is a physical means of food treatment comparable to heat pasteurization, canning or freezing. The process involves exposing the food for a specified time to high-energy gamma rays. The source of this energy may be electron beam, x-ray, or more commonly, cobalt 60.
The energy from these rays is sufficient to cause ionization; which is defined as any form of radiation with sufficient energy to dislodge electrons to create ions, but not enough to induce radioactivity in the product. It is this ionizing energy that destroys harmful bacteria.
Many people ask, “Will the food become radioactive or be altered when treated with an irradiation process?”, and some have even made the mistake of ignoring virtually forty years of food science research that shows conclusively that:
Irradiated products does not become radioactive after treatment.
Irradiation can kill food borne bacteria, molds, yeasts, insects, and parasitic organisms without the use of toxic chemicals or elevated temperatures.
Irradiation will not introduce changes in the composition of food products or negatively affect the nutritional value of the treated foods. Irradiation is the cleanest and safest method of food processing available today … yet it is the least used … Why?
FACT: The US Council for Agricultural Science and Technology has estimated that food borne diseases caused by pathogenic bacteria such as Campylobacter Escherichia coli 0157:h7, Listeria monocyiogenes, Salmonella and Staphyloccus aureus may cause as many as 9,000 deaths and up to 33 million cases of diarrheal disease (food poisoning) each year, in the United States.
The annual economic losses in the USA associated with this food borne disease may be as high as $5 to $6 billion!
Although the Science Council of Canada does not track these statistics, it accepts the probability that Canada’s costs are proportional to the population ratio of approximately 11% compared to the United States.
Food Items Currently Irradiated in Countries Around the World:
Citrus Tomatoes Potatoes Onions
Garlic Strawberries Papayas Mangoes
Mushrooms Avocados Some Spices Tea
Beans Legumes various flours Chicken
Frog legs Pork Sausages Shrimp
Various fish Pickle products various grains Rice
Yeasts Cherries Raspberries Grapes
Currants Dates Cocoa beans Apricots
Pears Asparagus Minced meats
INTERNATIONAL REGULATORY AGENCIES & ASSOCIATIONS THAT HAVE APPROVED OR RECOMMENDS THE USE OF IRRADIATION:
Health Canada (includes Dept. of Agriculture)
Science Council of Canada
Canadian & US Institute of Tech. (CIFST, IFT)
World Health Organization (WHO)
United Nations Food & Agricultural Organization (FAO)
US Department of Agriculture (USDA)
US Food & Drug Administration (USFDA)
American Medical Association (AMA)
American Meat Institute (AMI)
Codex Alimentarius Commission
American Spice Trade Association (ASTA)
American Council on Science & Health (USACSH)
US Council for Agricultural Science & Tech. (CAST)