Food irradiation is a food processing technique to induce and procure the same results derived from freezing or pasteurization of food. The irradiation method of food preservation is concerned with ionizing radiation to food. To extend the shelf life of the food, the application of ionizing radiation to food focuses in to slim down the presence of any harmful pathogens or microorganisms embedded in the food.
The Process of Food Irradiation
The process of irradiation for food preservation is carried out by exposing the food to gamma rays emitted predominantly from Cobalt 60 or Cesium 137 forms of radioactive elements. The rays emitting from the radioactive elements pass and flow around the exposed food. These radioactive gamma rays carry high energy penetrating capacity, which is instrumental in killing the nanoscopic microorganisms and pathogens embedded in the food. Throughout the food irradiation process, the food exposed to gamma rays exudes no change in its temperature, taste or appearance.
The Benefits of Food Irradiation -
The benefits associated with food irradiation are plenitude. Over the decades, scientists and laboratory engineers from across the globe have proven this through their considerable extensive empirical research. To accentuate, some of the most prominent benefits associated with food irradiation include:
- Extended shelf life of the food
- Mitigation of food spoilage
- Prevention and Insulation from food-borne maladies caused by micro-organisms such as Campylobacter, Salmonella, E. coli and Listeria
- The less usage and dependence on pesticides
- Less need for antioxidants and preservatives
- Reduced use of toxic chemical treatments, used to kill bacteria
Due to these galore benefits, food preservation by radiation technique is approved and embraced by at least 40 countries viz the United States of America, Japan, Holland, and France, to name a few.
Safety Related to Irradiated Food
The safety of irradiated food cannot be drawn through any scientific conjecture. Hence, Based on the evaluation of 30 years of relentless research conducted by Food Drug Evaluation, the empirical data and research have concluded its use and process to be safe. The approval and continuous support endorsed by, The World Health Organization (WHO), the American Dietetic Association and the Scientific Committee of the European Union has also played an immense role in its success.
To facilitate international food business and consumption, The list of most Irradiated food globally includes:
- Beef and Pork
- Sea Food
- Fresh Fruits and Vegetables
- Lettuce and Spinach
- Seeds for Sprouting (e.g., for alfalfa sprouts)
- Shell Eggs
Spices and Seasonings
Food Irradiation & Radioactivity
The most common fallacy and misconception for decades that has been catalysing the sluggish implementation and application of irradiation for food preservation techniques, is that irradiated food is radioactive. But in reality, it is not. Because Cobalt 60 or Cesium 137 forms of radioactive elements used during the food irradiation process do not generate or produce gamma electrons or X-rays of high energy which are highly sufficient to induce radioactivity in food.