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Top 5 Uses of Food Irradiation Process You Must Know

Gamma Irradiation is the process of subjecting any product to Ionizing Radiation in a highly controlled manner to achieve certain objectives such as:

  1. Sterilization of the product (Medical disposables etc)

  2. Reduction of Pathogens (Spices, Herbs, Pet foods, Animal Feed, Vegetables, Marine Products, etc)

  3. Disinfestation for hygiene and Quarantine control purposes.

(Cereals, Pulses, Fruits, etc)

  1. Sprout Inhibition. (Potatoes, Onion, Garlic, etc)

  2. Vulcanization (for Production of Radiation Vulcanized Rubber Latex)

  3. Cross-Linking of Polymers to improve mechanical properties

  4. In Transfusion Blood and Bone marrow grafts for prevention of TAGVHD

Key Benefits Of Irradiation

  • Significant increase in Shelf life for many products.

  • Eliminates harmful bacteria, viruses and insects/pests

  • Cold & clean process (No temperature rise or residue)

  • Treatment after final packaging (No repacking necessary).

 

KEY PRODUCTS FOR FOOD IRRADIATION

Normally the following kinds of foods are subjected to irradiation

1] SPICES & AYURVEDIC HERBS

2] FRESH FRUITS

3] TUBERS

4] CEREALS & PULSES

5] MEAT & SEAFOOD

 

  1. SPICES & AYURVEDIC HERBS -

  • Spices & Ayurvedic herbs are primarily irradiated for microbial decontamination/ insect disinfestation

Parameters:

  • Density: 0.35 to 0.45 gms/cc., 

  • Dose range: 6 to 14 kGy.

  • Average dose: 10 kGy

Sub-group of items irradiated:

  • Turmeric, chili's, onion & garlic powder, black pepper, cumin, jeera, compounded spices, psyllium husk

 

  1. FRESH FRUITS

  • Mangoes & pomegranates are irradiated for insect disinfestation for quarantine purposes for export to other countries like the USA, Australia, New Zealand, etc.

Parameters:

  • Density: 0.35 gms/cc., 

  • Dose range: 0.4 to 1 kGy.

  • Average dose: 0.7 kGy

Sub-group of items irradiated:

  • Mangoes, Pomegranates, Litchi, Papaya etc.

 

  1. TUBERS – 

  • Tubers such as potatoes and Onions are primarily irradiated to control sprouting, which is a major cause of spoilage.

Parameters:

  • Density: 0.45 gms/cc., 

  • Dose range: 0.03 to 0.2 kGy.

  • Average dose: 0.115 kGy

Sub-group of items irradiated:

  • potatoes, onions, garlic, etc.

 

  1.  CEREALS & PULSES -

Insect disinfestation is the primary goal for irradiation of rice, wheat, maize, Jowar, Dals, and their milled products.

Parameters:

  • Density: 0.6 gms/cc., 

  • Dose range: 0.25 to 1 kGy.

  • Average dose: 0.625 kGy

Sub-group of items irradiated:

  • Rice, Wheat, Dal, Maize, Jowar, Maida, Semolina, Atta etc

 

  1. MEAT & SEAFOOD

Chilled meat & seafood can be irradiated for shelf life extension. BY irradiation, the shelf life can be extended from 2-3 days to 3-4 weeks. Also once irradiated these can be stored in cool storage (0-4o).

Parameters:

  • Density: 0.8 gms/cc., 

  • Dose range: 1 to 3kGy.

  • Average dose: 2 kGy

Sub-group of items irradiated:

  • Fish, Shrimp, Crabs, Prawns, meat, poultry & allied products.

 

IS IRRADIATED FOOD SAFE TO EAT – KEY NOTE

Food Irradiation is used to reduce pathogens in foods. Depending on the dose, microorganisms, bacteria, and viruses present are destroyed, slowed down, or rendered incapable of reproduction. This reduces or eliminates the risk of foodborne illnesses. Some foods are irradiated at sufficient doses to ensure that the product is sterilized and does not add any spoilage or pathogenic microorganisms into the final product.

The dose range to which each product can be irradiated is specified by various international regulatory bodies. There are absolutely no harmful products produced due to irradiation. The method is safe and clean with no chemical residues or environmental issues.

KEY ADVANTAGES/ BENEFITS ARE:

  • Shelf Life: Extension of shelf life from 2-3 days to 3 to 4 weeks

  • Energy Savings: Export/ storage of these commodities in chilled condition (2-4oC) as against frozen condition (sub-zero temperatures).

  • Cold and Clean Process: This means that there is no question of any residue or rise in temperature over here, so the composition of food product doesn’t change.

  • Improvement in Quality: Reduction in the overall microbial amount & elimination of drip losses.

Based on the requirements (as per dosage), the applications of food irradiation can be classified as  :

1. High / Medium dose Irradiation Plants: For Irradiation of Products between 1 KiloGray to 30 KiloGray dose range such as Spices, Medical disposables, herbs, pet food, rubber latex, etc.

2. Low / Medium dose Irradiation Plants : For Irradiation of Products between 0.03 KiloGray to 14 KiloGray such as agro products like Cereals, pulses, Mangoes and other fruits, Potatoes, Onions, Spices, etc.

So, as you can see, this is a widely used process and one that you need not have any apprehensions about.