What is Food Irradiation?

Food Irradiation

In the past year, we’ve faced several food-borne illnesses deriving from foods such as spinach, ground beef and unpasteurized fruit juices. Energy waves passing through the food can kill harmful bacteria in food such as meat and poultry products.

By: Natasha Morgan

In the past year, we’ve faced several food-borne illnesses deriving from foods such as spinach, ground beef and unpasteurized fruit juices.

Researchers have been busy trying to come up with ways to combat the new strains of harmful bacteria as well as the forms of bacteria that have evolved which cause serious illness.

Among the technologies that have been studied, a process called irradiation has been found to be an effective way to ensure that harmful organisms are eliminated from the foods found in our grocery stores.

Energy waves passing through the food can kill harmful bacteria in food such as meat and poultry products by breaking molecular bonds in the DNA of bacteria, other pathogens, and insects.

 

How Safe is Irradiation?

The Food and Drug Administration has approved irradiation for a variety of foods including meat, poultry, fresh fruits, vegetables, and spices.

Nearly 40 countries world wide are taking advantage of the technology and irradiation is endorsed by the World Health Organization and the American Medical Association.

When first learning about this process many consumers feared that irradiation will make foods radioactive or it will cause harmful chemical changes. However, health experts have reassured us that the only down-side is a possible slight loss of nutrients.

On the other hand, the elimination of harmful bacteria reduces spoilage bacteria, insects and parasites. Certain fruits and vegetables will remain fresher for much longer as the process delays ripening.

Although irradiation is becoming popular, experts warn that we must remain vigilant in adhering to existing food safety programs and practice clean food handling in our kitchens.

 

This article was written specifically for notjustthekitchen.com.

It can be copied provided the content is in no way altered and the following link remains active: Read more articles geared toward women at NotJustTheKitchen.com.

For more information on this topic, visit FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition.

Read more about Food Irradiation at Globe & Mail 

Photo: Yusuke Kawasaki