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Fun Facts About Food Irradiation. Why do we preserve food?. Protect people from microorganisms, parasites, and other pests Extend shelf-life, improve long-term quality Make desirable alterations to food properties. History of Food Preservation. Oldest Methods - Drying - Fermenting

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Fun Facts About Food Irradiation

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why do we preserve food
Why do we preserve food?
  • Protect people from microorganisms, parasites, and other pests
  • Extend shelf-life, improve long-term quality
  • Make desirable alterations to food properties
history of food preservation
History of Food Preservation
  • Oldest Methods
    • - Drying
    • - Fermenting
    • - Salting
    • - Smoking
  • Newer Methods
    • - Freezing
    • - Canning
    • - Refrigeration
    • - Preservatives
    • - Pesticides

Newest Method:


what is food irradiation
What is food irradiation?
  • Treatment of foods by subjecting them to ionizing radiation
  • Does not and cannot make foods radioactive
ionizing radiation
Ionizing Radiation
  • Radiation that has the ability to produce ions - electrically charged particles
  • Examples: alpha particle, beta particle, high energy electron, gamma ray, and x-ray
nonionizing radiation
Nonionizing Radiation
  • Does not have sufficient energy to create ions - instead tends to excite molecules without removing electrons
  • Examples: visible light, television waves, radio waves, and microwaves
sources of ionizing radiation
Cosmic Radiation (the sun)

Medical procedures

Radon and other terrestrial sources

Nuclear weapons fallout

Power plants


Smoke detectors


Sources of Ionizing Radiation
food irradiator sources
Food Irradiator Sources
  • Cobalt-60 and Cesium-137
    • Emit gamma rays
    • Sealed in container - never touches food
    • Can be recycled
  • Machine generated beta or x-rays
    • Produces no waste outside of the machine used to produce the radiation
irradiation processes
Irradiation Processes
  • Sterilization
  • Pasteurization
  • Disinfestation
  • Sprout Inhibition
  • Delay of Ripening
  • Physical Improvements
irradiation sterilization
Irradiation Sterilization
  • Very high dose used to kill all organisms
  • Sterilization of > 50% disposable medical instruments
  • Food sterilization - NASA, military, transplant patients
irradiation pasteurization
Irradiation Pasteurization
  • Reduces remaining number of living organisms
  • Prevent growth of mold
  • Kill bacteria and parasites
irradiation disinfestation
Irradiation Disinfestation
  • Kills insects and parasites in grains and other stored foods
  • Fewer chemical residues on fruits and vegetables
  • Does not prevent against re-infestation
physical improvements
Physical Improvements
  • Inhibit sprouting of potatoes, onions, and garlic
  • Delay of ripening for strawberries, mangoes, bananas, tomatoes, etc.
  • Incidental improvement in fruit texture and meat color
how does irradiation do so many different things
How does irradiation do so many different things?
  • High doses damage or kills cells
    • Kills microorganisms or insects
  • Lower doses alter chemical reactions and interfere with cell division
    • Delay fruit ripening
    • Prevent sprouting or parasite reproduction
are irradiated foods safe to eat
Are irradiated foods safe to eat?
  • Foods cannot become radioactive at energies used in irradiation
  • Below 10 kGy there are no known toxicological, microbiological, or nutritional problems
foods approved for irradiation in the united states
Foods Approved for Irradiation in the United States
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Herbs and spices
  • Pork
  • Potatoes
  • Poultry
important terminology
Important Terminology

Ion: Atom that has been made electrically charged by the removal or one or more electron.

Gray: Unit of energy absorbed by a material. 1000 Gy = 1 kGy

Radura: Official symbol or logo indicating that food has been irradiated.

sources of additional information
Sources of Additional Information
  • American Council on Science and Health

  • World Health Organization

Safety and Nutritional Adequacy of Irradiated Foods

  • Institute of Food Technologists

Radiation Preservation of Foods