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Irradiation of Food - A Solution for the Nuclear Waste Problem

Nuclear energy was first used to produce electricity in 1954 in Russia. The field has come a long way since then. Today, 15% of the world’s electricity is produced by nuclear energy. When uranium atoms are split it leads to the origination of nuclear energy, and this process is termed as fission. In this process, the heat generated produces steam which is then then used by turbine generators to produce electricity. As these nuclear power plants don’t use fuels for burning, they do not release any greenhouse gases. It has been widely accepted that nuclear energy is the cleanest source of power and also for the future, and since it is produced through a scientific process using chemicals, thus the abundance of this type of energy is guaranteed. More and more countries are now setting up nuclear power plants to combat power issues crippling the people. But one major problem arises out of the use of nuclear energy: radioactive waste.

The issue with nuclear energy is that the waste products last a long time. Radioactive waste produced by a nuclear power plant is stored in a safe and secure location, far from the civilian population. But in case there is an accident in a plant, radioactive elements get released into the air, making it toxic to breathe. The disposal of nuclear waste is a very important process and has to be done with utmost care. Radioactive waste also poses a threat to nature. Endangering animal and plant life, if nuclear waste isn’t handled in a proper manner, it will have drastic effects on nature and the environment as a whole. Moreover, nuclear waste even causes health issues- especially cancer. The awareness about the harmful effects of nuclear waste has increased and as a result, scientists have come up with several techniques to counter such a problem. One of the techniques gaining ground is the irradiation of food.

Food irradiation is the process of exposing food and food packaging to ionizing radiation. The radioactive waste which is released from nuclear power plants is used to irradiate materials, including food. Irradiating food helps preserve it, killing bacteria and other microbes, and thus increasing the shelf life of the product. Food products which are vulnerable to quick decay undergo this process. In other conditions, food which must be stored for long periods of time is irradiated. Lately, vegetables and fruits are increasingly being irradiated since the threat of them getting decayed due to pests is high. Irradiation kills these pests and prevents any further chance of such microorganisms redeveloping again. Irradiation also prevents the use of pesticides. With the increasing awareness about the ill-effects of pesticides, irradiation of food provides a safe and efficient alternative to it. It is a common misconception that food irradiation affects the quality of the product. This is wrong. This process does not compromise the quality of the product. In fact, it preserves the quality of the product for long periods of time and makes sure the product is safe to consume. But another thing to note is that not all foods can be irradiated because it can change the flavor or texture of the product.

Realizing the benefits of food irradiation, we at Symec Engineers look to use the advantages such a process puts forward to help preserve food products for lengthy periods of time. Using gamma irradiation, we strive to achieve sterilization of the product, reduction of pathogens, and disinfestation for hygiene and quarantine control purposes. The need to find an efficient system to dispose of radioactive waste has been never been greater and using to irradiate food is a positive step forward in that direction. We use safe and standardized equipment for various irradiation processes, including agro product irradiation. Our aim is to help provide top quality products without any compromise on their nutritional content and deliver the best to our customers.