India is a country that is advancing rapidly in every field, including the health sector. But the health of a country is reflected a lot, not just through the number of diseases but also the kind of diseases prevalent among the masses. And it is sad to see that in our country, food born diseases are still extremely rampant. And the worst thing about foodborne illnesses is that they tend to spread and affect groups of people quickly.
To counter such problems, we have many techniques that we use to make the food safer for consumption. And food irradiation is nothing but one such method.
However, like most of the irradiation, the general public views it in a negative light despite its many advantages.
Through this blog here, we at Symec Engineer’s answer some of the most frequently asked questions about food preservation through radiation.
- What is Food Irradiation?
Food irradiation is the use of ionizing radiations to kill the harmful and disease-causing microorganisms present in food which in turn not only makes it safer for human consumption but also increases the shelf life. It is nothing but a method of food preservation like boiling or pasteurization or salting.
- Does it make food radioactive or unsafe for consumption?
- Food irradiation is a highly controlled process and the radiation does not make the food radioactive. The radiation passes through the food items, killing the micro-organism present there but not otherwise affecting the food in any way. Irradiated food is safer for consumption than non-irradiated food items.
- What food items are usually irradiated?
Most commonly irradiated food items in the country include spices and dry seasoning, meat and poultry, herbs and herb products and fresh fruits and vegetables.
- How are irradiated food items different from non-irradiated food?
Irradiating a food item does not affect its taste, texture, look, consistency, etc. One cannot look at a food item or taste or smell it and tell if it has been irradiated or not. The changes are so minimal, the only way of knowing the irradiation status of a food item is to look for the certification logo of the company on the packaging.In terms of nutrition loss, once again, the changes are so minimal that studies claim there is the same or even less loss of nutritional value of irradiated food than of boiled or frozen products.
The only difference of note is that irradiated food is safer for consumption.
- Do irradiated food need special handling or maintenance?
- Absolutely not. Once irradiated, packed and shipped from the center, the food items are to be handled with the same care and procedure as any other food item of that nature.We would conclude by stating that food irradiation is a long used and extremely safe food preservation technique but the misinformation or partial information rampant among the people prevent them from protecting themselves from foodborne pathogens when it can be easily, safely and cost-effectively be done.