Food technology

Introducing Irradiation

 Food is always related to energy. But for a change today, we will relate it to ionising radiations.   

‘The energy emitted by radioisotopes keeps our body’s energy level high.’ I am sure the sentence must have surprised most of you. But it is a fact from a food engineer’s point of view. 

The method of preserving food by the use of different radiations emitted by radioisotopes is known as food irradiation.

There are three types of ionising radiation potentially used to treat food.

  1. Electron beams. 
  2. X rays.
  3. Gamma rays (Occurs from the radioactive decay of (Cesium 137 or Cobalt 60)

The radiation treatment given to food can be classified based on the purpose of irradiation and the type of food irradiated into three types. 

  1. Radappertization is where the food is sterilized(harmful microbes destroyed) by ionizing radiation. Above(10 kGy) eg: Hospital diets, enzyme preparations, prepared meals.
  2. Radurization: It is done to target specific pathogens or reduce the number of microbes. (1 -10 kGy) eg: seafood, raw meat. 
  3. Radicidation: It helps to extend shelf life and inhibit sprouting in vegetables. (up to 1 kGy) eg: Potato, Onion, Garlic. kGy is decimal multiple of SI unit of absorbed dose of ionising radiation and specific energy

Application: 

It is used in the preservation of fruits and vegetables, seafood, red meat, spices and seasonings, and seeds like alfalfa.

Labeling: The FDA requires that irradiated foods bear the international symbol for irradiation. Look for the Radura symbol along with the statement ” Treated with radiation or treated by radiation on the food label.

Around the world with food technology

Belgium consumes the highest percentage of irradiated food in the world. About 49% of the irradiated food produced is consumed in Belgium. 

Irradiation for life 

Even the intense radiation, when used at the right level, proves beneficial to ensure food safety and extend the shelflife of perishable products. In life, even the hardest situation has its set of advantages. It is up to us how we utilize it. Even the locked down has created a situation where we have plenty of time to spend with our loved ones which were, almost a dream for many of us a couple of weeks ago. 

Antioxidants for health 

 Red guava is a powerhouse of antioxidants with anthocyanins, ascorbic acid or vitamin c and many other phenolic compounds that help us stay healthy and resistant to diseases. It also helps strengthen our nerves. It is perfect to say it is Indian blueberry. 

An interesting piece of information 

  1. The FDA has evaluated the safety of irradiated food for more than 30 years and found the process to be safe.
  2. ‘I think that more consumers would choose irradiated food if they fully understood the process and the results so that they were comfortable with it.’ – says an expert & professor in agriculture and life science.

Categories: Food technology

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