What is Food Irradiation?
It is a new food safety technology which eliminates disease causing microbes such a salmonella, campylobacter, E. coli from food keeping it healthy and safe for human consumption. The technology is not only safe but also effective in the manner that is can help prevent various food-borne diseases which affect millions around the world.
How does it work?
Whenever any food item is exposed to the radiations present in the irradiators, the energy released from the radiations results in the breakage of the bonds of the DNA molecule leading to genetic damage. Until repaired, the organism will not be able to reproduce and die. Based on how sensitive the micro-organism is to irradiation, amount of DNA and rate of repair depends the effectiveness and efficiency of the process. Frozen food takes larger radiation doze to kill the microbes. Viruses are resistant to irradiation.
How it affects the quality of food?
1. Kills pathogens: Irradiation kills the parasites, insect pests and bacteria present in food and makes the food safe for human consumption. It prevents a lot of food contamination diseases which affect millions of people around the world. Patients with compromised immune system are provided a diet of irradiated foods to reduce the risk of infections. It is equivalent to pasteurization for solid foods.
2. Increase shelf life: Irradiation kills or damages the living cells in the food. This is useful as it not only delays the ripening process but also helps to inhibit sprouting thus ultimately prolonging the shelf life of all the fruits and vegetables.
3. Irradiated food is safe: Whenever a new technology comes in the market, there is always that section of people who spread rumors about it because they can’t adapt to change. Irradiated foods either in packaged or bulk is exposed to controlled amounts of ionizing radiation like gamma rays and x-rays for a specified duration of time to achieve desirable results. So irradiated foods are not radioactive and will not cause cancer. It is perfectly safe for human consumption. Irradiated food are approved by the Food and Drug Administration so you are in safe hands.
4. Does not alter quality: There is no change in the nutritional quality of food after they are exposed to radiation. On approved amount of radiation exposure, levels of vitamins such as Thiamine is only slightly reduced and not so much so that it would end up resulting in vitamin deficiency in food. Amino acids, fatty acids and other vitamins remain intact. These are minimal effects and one cannot easily determine if the food irradiation took place or not. Also irradiation is not a thermal process and the food remains essentially still “raw”.
5. It is not costly: As compared to normal food, irradiated food is pricey but only by a very slight margin. There is an increase of 3-5 cents per pound of food that is approximately 64 paisa!! Considering the safety standards of irradiated food, this price is totally affordable and acceptable.
Symec Engineers India Pvt Ltd. has been helping multiple corporations set up food irradiation plants in India, guiding them from the start till the start of production. The typical duration is around 14-18 months. With several big corporations as their clientele, it is a no-brainer who to look forward to set up your new plant.