Food Irradiation Updates

Published by Ronald F. Eustice and sponsored  by GRAY*STAR Inc.
April  2014
Food Irradiation Update is published monthly by Ronald F. Eustice, a food quality & safety assurance consultant based in Minneapolis and Tucson. He can be reached at: and at 612.202.1016.
These are exciting times in the world of food irradiation. The interest in food irradiation is growing rapidly as the technology is used worldwide to make our food safer, increase shelf-life and protect agriculture from unwanted foreign pests. Read more about recent developments below. 
Team Genesis, a group of companies and individuals with shared vision are working hard to expand the use of irradiation of food not only in the US but throughout the World.  As a major part of that effort, an improved website, has been created to provide authoritative information about the irradiation of food products.
FEATURE ARTICLE...Archbishop heralds opening of US market to irradiated South Africa sharon fruit
MYTH of the MONTH..."E-Beam Irradiators are...faster than Gamma Irradiators.
ALSO in the NEWS: Irradiation may be the future option for exports
Using irradiation to improve beef safety; Beam me up!
Not only oysters; clam-associated vibriosis, USA, 1988-2010
Bankrupt peanut plant to be auctioned-off
Malaysian Tropical Fruits Approved for US Market: Irradiation Mandatory
Vietnam fresh fruit exports exceeded US$1bn in value
Safer ways to ripen fruit
Feature Article
Archbishop heralds opening of US market to irradiated South Africa sharon fruit with first shipments due to leave soon; America Fruit (April 4, 2014):
JOHANNESBURG: Archbishop Demond Tutu heralds opening of US market to South Africa sharon fruit with first shipments due to leave later this month. The first South African sharon fruit destined for the US market will leave South Africa within the next two weeks following the announcement that the US has opened its doors to the fruit.

The move will increase marketing opportunities for the country's growers and bring new impetus to production of the fruit. Since the persimmon industry was established in South Africa towards the end of the 1990s, it mainly had to rely on the European, Canadian, Middle East and Far East markets. Sharon fruit, a variety of persimmon, is marketed worldwide by Israel's Mor International, the group responsible for starting the South African business. Entrance to the US follows an agreement that South African sharon fruit (Persimmons) will be treated in Gulfport, MS by Gateway America using a Genesis Irradiator because there are no facilities available in South Africa to carry out the process on the required scale. 

The final announcement came after South African government officials signed the official documentation.

South African sharon fruit is also expected to benefit from the AGOA Treaty, which the US government introduced in 2000 to support the development of agriculture in Africa and to create export opportunities for South African exporters.

The fruit is expected to fill a niche in the US market at the end of the Northern Hemisphere marketing season. "It offers us the opportunity to offer our fruit to the US trade and consumers during the months of May to July, which is prolonging our season," said Mor director Meir Ben-Artzy.

"It will create a more evenly balanced supply and demand situation in all our markets and will also stimulate growth in production in South Africa."

Pine Pienaar, project leader of Sharon Fruit in South Africa, added: "While we are very pleased with this development, it will take some time to build a sustainable supply programme because there are still some operational issues to be sorted out."

The South African fruit will be shipped in containers to Newark on the East Coast of the US and will be transported from there to New Orleans to be irradiated. Thereafter it will be delivered to customers.

The marketing of the fruit will be handled by Mor's office in New York. 

"E-Beam Irradiators are faster than Gamma Irradiators."

"E-Beam Irradiators are faster than Gamma Irradiators."


This statement is incorrect. Processing speed is based on the designed production throughput for an irradiator independent of whether it is E-Beam or Gamma.


There is a fundamental difference of how the radiation is delivered between e-beam irradiation and gamma irradiation.   E-Beam irradiators expose a relatively small mass of product for a relatively short period of time. In contrast, gamma irradiators expose a relatively large mass of product for a relatively long period of time. Typically, the "dose rate" for electrons is much greater compared to that of gamma but the amount of product exposed during irradiation is much greater in a gamma irradiator than in an e-beam irradiator.


This myth was created by only looking at the "dose rate" aspect of productivity and not at the mass of the product being irradiated. For example, using the same product/dose in an e-beam and gamma irradiator of similar production throughput, one could say that the e-beam irradiator irradiates a product in seconds whereas a gamma irradiator takes minutes. This would support the myth.


What was left out of the preceding example was that the e-beam irradiator was only irradiating a box of product in seconds, whereas the gamma irradiator was irradiating a pallet of product in minutes. This breaks the myth.


The "speed" of an irradiator is really its production throughput whether it is e-beam or gamma. Or, on average, how many pounds an hour the unit can produce. Not how many seconds it takes one box to run through the unit.


Technically, the real production rate of an irradiator (speed) is measured in (dose x mass)/time. For example: kGy-kilograms/hour. Both e-beam and gamma irradiators can be designed for any production rate. Like all processing equipment, the design parameters are defined to meet market enough to meet demand at the appropriate cost. Read more here.


Irradiation may be the future option for exports; Tom Karst, The Packer (April 7, 2014): 

Food irradiation: Is it safe?
Food Irradiation Future Option

ORANGE, CALIFORNIA: The phaseout of the fumigant methyl bromide may position irradiation as an emerging phytosanitary option for U.S. fresh produce exporters.

That is the view of Cory Lunde, policy analyst and project manager for Western Growers, Irvine, Calif., after participating in a workshop on irradiation in late March.

The March 25-26 workshop in Orange, Calif., called "Opportunities in Phytosanitary Irradiation for Fresh Produce Workshop," was sponsored by Chapman University and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. Lunde said the workshop, the fourth annual workshop on that topic at Chapman University and co-sponsored by the USDA, included presentations of research that compared the shelf life of product treated by methyl bromide and irradiation.- Click to Read More....

Using irradiation to improve beef safety; Beam me up! By Reynold Bergen; Canadian Cattlemen's Association (April 2, 2014): 

CALGARY: No one wants to throw up in zero gravity, so space programs take great care to avoid food poisoning among astronauts. Irradiation has been used to pasteurize astronauts' food since 1966. In fact, irradiation has been the most studied of all food-processing technologies over the past 60 years. Irradiation improves food safety by fatally damaging bacterial DNA. This stops the growth and reproduction of the bacteria that can cause food to spoil or people to become sick. Read more here...

Not only oysters; clam-associated vibriosis, USA, 1988-2010; Doug Powell, BarfBlog (March 26, 2014):

Infections with Vibrio spp. have frequently been associated with consumption of bivalve molluscs, especially oysters, but illness associated with clams has also been well documented. We describe the 2312 domestically acquired foodborne Vibrio infections reported to the Cholera and Other Vibrio Illness Surveillance system from 1988 to 2010. Clams were associated with at least 4% (93 persons, 'only clams') and possibly as many as 24% (556 persons, 'any clams') of foodborne cases. Of those who consumed 'only clams', 77% of infections were caused by V. parahaemolyticus. Clam-associated illnesses were generally similar to those associated with other seafood consumption. Clams associated with these illnesses were most frequently harvested from the Atlantic coastal states and eaten raw. Our study describes the contribution of clams to the overall burden of foodborne vibriosis and indicates that a comprehensive programme to prevent foodborne vibriosis need to address the risks associated with clams.
Bankrupt peanut plant to be auctioned-off; Barf Blog, Doug Powell 

(March 14, 2014)

PORTALES, NEW MEXICO: In fall, 2012, 41 people in 20 states contracted Salmonella from natural and organic peanut butter, produced by Sunland Inc. of Portales, New Mexico, and primarily through purchases at Trader Joe's.

By Nov. 2012, Sunland was eager to reopen, but the U.S. Food and Drug Administration had other ideas, and filed a permanent injunction against Sunland.

In May, 2013, Sunland announced it was back in production and company officials said their coveted natural and organic butters could be back on store shelves within a month.

By Oct. 2013 they were bankrupt. Lack of food safety can do that to an operation. Read more here...

Malaysian Tropical Fruits Approved for US Market: Irradiation Mandatory; FreshFruitPortal (March 25, 2014):

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has approved the import of fresh jackfruit, pineapples, and starfruit from Malaysia under the condition that all commodities are irradiated for insect pests, inspected and imported in commercial consignments, the Federal Register reported March 25th.

With the newly granted approval, the Government of Malaysia expects to export 2,500MT of fresh pineapples, 1,500MT of fresh jackfruit and 3,000MT of fresh starfruit annually to the United States. Read more here...

Vietnam fresh fruit exports exceeded US$1bn in value for the first time in 2013
 (April 4, 2014):

HO CHI MINH CITY: Thanks to market access because of irradiation, Vietnam's fresh fruit exports topped US$1bn in value during 2013, the first year that the landmark has been reached.

According to Vietnamnet, export turnover has increased due to growing global demand for dragon fruit, mangoes and rambutan.

Indeed, Vietnam's rambutan exports have overtaken competitors such as Thailand and Malaysia in the US market, the publication noted, due to its ability to export year-round. Read more here....

Safer ways to ripen fruit; The Times of India; The Times of India; Indriani Basu (March 28, 2014):

MangoNAVI MUMBAI, INDIA: As summer season steps in, the king of fruits - Mango - is becoming a common sight in the wholesale and retail markets. One will find big paper boxes containing nearly four dozen mangoes packed inside being transported.

These mangoes are usually transported to the markets while they are still a bit raw as fully mature fruits cannot withstand pressure during transportation. "For many years, it is a part of our job to ripen the fruit just enough for transportation," said Haresh Vasandani, secretary of Fruit and Vegetable Merchants' Association. is an excellent source of information on food irradiation.
Food Irradiation Update is being sent to you by Ronald F. Eustice and is sponsored by GRAY*STAR, Inc., the manufacturer of the Genesis Irradiator.
Food irradiation is a cold pasteurization process that will do for meats, produce, and other foods what thermal pasteurization did for milk decades ago.
Ronald F. Eustice, Consultant





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