Food irradiation is the process of treating food items and products with x-rays, gamma rays and electron beams to eliminate micro-organisms and pathogens that can cause any illnesses or diseases. Additionally, it is also used to avoid spoilage or decomposition of food and delay in sprouting and ripening. Food irradiation has advantages and along with that, some disadvantages also.
Here is a list of the advantages and disadvantages of Food irradiation:
- Enhances Food Safety: Irradiation techniques are used to reduce risks related to foodborne illnesses that are caused by microorganisms such as Salmonella. Food irradiation can kill pathogens and can be used to sterilise the food of the patients with an impaired immune system such as those suffering from AIDS or undergoing chemotherapy.
- Extended Shelf Life: Apart from eliminating food pathogens, Food irradiation can also help extend the shelf life of food items by destroying the inactive organisms that cause spoilage and decomposition.
- No Chemical Residue: The WHO and the US Department of Agriculture believe that technology is safe to use on food and does not produce any toxic substances.
- Minor Nutrient Loss: While many claims that irradiation can affect the nutritional value of food, studies show that it helps preserve nutrients better than the common food preservative techniques such as boiling and freezing.
- Properly Labelled: Foods that have been irradiated come with a label, a Radura label that allows consumers to choose between buying or avoiding irradiated items.
- Does not guarantee total food safety: While irradiation food is considered to be safe for consumption, it does not eliminate toxins. Additionally, when it is applied below the dose that is recommended, it may not be able to get rid of viruses as well. This means proper irradiation dose is required to guarantee total food safety.
- Effects on mammals and aves: Irradiation may not show its signs on human health, but studies have shown that irradiated food can pose numerous health risks and conditions to mammals and aves in some rare cases. These can include chromosomal abnormalities, cancers of various kinds and even premature death.
- Environmental Contamination: While constructing and maintaining an irradiation facility is expensive in itself, but what is harder is to ensure that the surrounding environment is free from any kind of contamination and this can get costly as well.
- Vitamin Content: The process of irradiation can leave macronutrients like proteins, fats, carbohydrates and minerals unaffected. But it is not the same for vitamin content. Vitamins like thiamin, Vitamin E, and Vitamin C are reduced and sometimes even eliminated through irradiation. To compensate for the loss of these vitamins in your body, you will have to take supplements along with your diet.
We, at Symec Engineers, believe that Food irradiation is the new step in food technology and production. There are a lot of external factors such as microorganisms and pathogens that would cause illnesses and that we could not control in the past. But with Food irradiation, these factors can be controlled to a large extent. Reach out to the experts at Symec Engineers to know more about it.