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What is Food Irradiation

Food irradiation is a process in which food


products are exposed to a controlled amount of
radiant energy to increase the safety of the food
and to extend shelf life of the food
Like pasteurization of milk and pressure cooking
of canned foods, treating food with ionizing
radiation can kill bacteria and parasites that
would otherwise cause foodborne disease.
Irradiation.also known as:
Ionizing radiation
Surface pasteurization
Electronic pasteurization
E-beam sterilization/pasteurization
Ionizing radiation
When radiation strikes other material, it
transfers energy.

This can cause heating, as with microwave
cooking, or if there is enough energy, it can
knock electrons out of the material
bombarded, breaking the molecular
structure-thus leaving ions (free radicals)
hence the name ionizing radiation.
Electromagnetic Spectrum
Low Frequency
Long Wavelengths
High Frequency
Short Wavelengths
Sources of Ionizing irradiation
Gamma sources of irradiation
X-ray machines
Electron accelerators
Gamma () rays
energy comes from decay of radioactive
isotopes
Cobalt-60 (half life of 5.3 years)
Produced by neutron bombardment
Cesium-137 (half life of 30 years)
By-product of spent nuclear fuel
Gamma () rays
Isotope is contained and stored in pool of water
and raised when produce is to be exposed to -
rays
facility is concrete chamber with 6-12 thick walls
completely penetrates product and packaging
(pallets)
Electron-beam
electricity is power source-switch on and off
uses stream of high-energy electrons
accelerated at near the speed of light
electrons are showered on the product
facilities are shielded with concrete or steel walls
penetrates approximately 2-3 of product and
packaging
ideal for thin ground beef patties
How ionizing radiation works
Electrons disrupt the DNA chain either destroying
or preventing reproduction of the organism


Factors affecting irradiation
effectiveness against
microorganisms in foods
Growth phase of microorganism
Type of food (lean vs fat)
Moisture content (water level)
Temperature of food (frozen vs heated)
Presence of oxygen (aerobic vs anaerobic)
Irradiation Dosage
Dose - amount of energy transferred
rad - old unit
gray (Gy) - new unit
1 kGy = 100,000 rad

1 chest X-ray = .01 rad
natural background = 0.1 rad/year
Approximate doses of radiation needed
to kill various organisms
Organisms Dose (kGy)
Higher animals 0.005 to 0.1
Insects 0.01 to 1
Non-spore forming bacteria 0.5 to 10
Bacterial spores 10 to 50
Viruses 10 to 200
Typical irradiation
D-values of pathogens
kGy
Organism Fresh (refrigerated) Frozen
Camplobacter jejuni 0.08 0.20 0.21 0.32
E. Coli O157:H7 0.24 0.27 0.31 0.44
Staphlococcus aureus 0.26 0.60 0.30 0.45
Salmonella spp. 0.30 0.80 0.40 1.30
Listeria monocytogenes 0.27 1.00 0.52 1.30
D-value is equivalent to radiation dose required
to reduce a bacterial population 90%
Typical irradiation
D-values of pathogens
kGy
Organism

Fresh (refrigerated)
Clostridium botulinum
spores
1.00 3.60
Toxoplasma 0.40 0.70
Trichinella spiralis 0.30 0.60
D-value is equivalent to radiation dose required
to reduce a bacterial population 90%
Destruction of microorganisms
Irradiation
kGy dose
1 D value
Contains 10
microorganisms
1 microorganism survives
Irradiation
kGy dose
2 D value
Contains 10
microorganisms
1 microorganism survives/ 10 steaks
Pasteurization
To reduce microorganisms but not to sterilize the
product

Purpose is to destroy pathogenic
microorganisms to make food safe

This is normally 5 to 7 D values
Effect of irradiation on shelf life of fresh
meats
Spoilage organisms, especially pseudomonads,
are susceptible to low dose irradiation

Spoilage of low dose irradiated meats may be
due to yeast, LAB, or Moraxella spp. (increased
lag time)
Shelf life extension of fresh meat

Meat product
Dose
kGry
Untreated
shelf life
(days)
Irradiated
shelf life
(days)
Beef cuts 2 14-21 70
Ground beef 1.5 8-10 26-28
Pork loins 3 41 90
Ground pork 1 8 12
How does irradiation
food processing operation work?
Food is packed in containers and moved by
conveyer belt into a shielded room.

Food is exposed briefly to a radiant-energy source.

(The amount of energy depends on the food.)

Food is left virtually unchanged, but the number of
harmful bacteria, parasites and fungi is reduced and
may be eliminated.

Gamma () ray
processing facility
Gamma () ray
processing facility
Electron-beam
Dosimeter
Levels of Food Irradiation

Radurization (low) < 1 kGy
vegetable sprouting, fruit ripening, insect sterilization

Radicidation (medium) 1-10 kGy
kills most pathogens and many food spoilage
organisms, kills insects and parasites

Rappertization (high) > 10kGy
can sterilize by killing all bacteria and viruses
Technology Comparison
Electron Beam Cobalt-60

Technology
Focused beam of
electrons (10 MeV energy)
Photons created from decay of
radioactive material
Advantages



Safe ON/OFF
Cost efficient
In-Line capability
Compact systems
High dose rate = reduced
oxidation
Increased ability to penetrate
dense material
Process pallet load
Disadvantage Reduced ability to
penetrate dense
material (3 in. of highly
dense product approx. 8
meat patties high)

Cannot be turned OFF always
emitting gamma radiation
Requires source disposal and
replenishment
Low dose rate = increased
oxidation
Consumer perception
Meat Irradiation
December 23, 1999 Federal Register
Effective date February 22, 2000
Ionizing radiation approved for use
Cobalt-60, Cesium-137, X-ray machines, Electron
accelerators
Dosage
4.5 kGy if refrigerated
7.0 kGy if frozen
Safety and efficacy of
food irradiation
The following statements are in the Federal Register (12/23/1999)

The safety and efficacy of food irradiation, as demonstrated by
numerous experiments and studies, is widely accepted by Federal
regulatory agencies and national and international food and public
health organizations

FDA examined numerous studies on the chemical effects of
radiation, the impact of radiation on nutrient content of foods,
potential toxicity concerns and effects on microorganisms in or on
irradiated products. FDA concluded that irradiation is safe in
reducing disease-causing microbes in or on meat food products and
it does not compromise the nutritional quality of treated products.

The World Health Organization, Food and Agriculture Organization,
American Medical Association and American Dietetic Association
endorse food irradiation
Web sites of interest
http://www.fsis.usda.gov/OA/topics/irrmenu.htm
http://www.acsh.org/publications/booklets/irradiated.pdf
http://www.ers.usda.gov/Topics/view.asp?T=102818
http://www.fda.gov/opacom/catalog/irradbro.html
http://www.fsis.usda.gov/OA/topics/irrad-risk.htm