Published by Ronald F. Eustice and sponsored  by GRAY*STAR Inc.
February 2017
Food Irradiation Update is published monthly by Ronald F. Eustice, a food quality & safety assurance consultant based in Tucson, Arizona. He can be reached at:
and at 612.202.1016
We received positive feedback to last month's article on irradiation in South Africa by Cherin Balt of HEPRO, Capetown. Thank you, Cherin! This issue features an update on irradiation in Iran by Ehsan Eftekhari-Zadeh of Shar Parto Iranian Company. We hope that you find it equally interesting. In March, I will attend the Seventh Annual Phytosanitary Conference at Chapman University (March 21-22) and look forward to seeing many of our readers there. This conference is the most informative irradiation conference in the world. Speakers are on the agenda from several countries that are making food irradiation a routine process. Plan to attend this conference. Learn more below.
IN THIS ISSUE
Featured Article:  Current status of irradiation industry in Iran; By Ehsan Eftekhari-Zadeh, Shar Parto Iranian Company:
Irradiation in Iran: 
Introduction: 
According to the statistics made by Food and Agricultur e Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Iran is a predominantly agricultural country [1]. Iran ranks third on diversity of agricultural products in the world and ranks first in fruit production in the Middle East and North Africa [2]. Iran has also certain strategic agricultural products for export such as saffron, pistachios, and dates. As a result of the Montreal Protocol  concerning chemical substances (e.g. Methyl Bromide) for their preservation, export potential for these fruits and nuts has been severely reduced. Radiation processing, however, due to its Eco-friendly and unique features can play a significant role to increase the export of such agricultural products throughout the world. Consequently, food irradiation is a major market area in Iran for applications of radiation processing. 

Message from the Shar Parto Iranian Company CEO
:  
Seyedreza Raflee , CEO,
Shar Parto Iranian Co.
 
Shar Parto Iranian Co. (SPI) as a member of International
Irradiation Association (iia) knows their responsibility for the safety of all individuals around the world. To reach this goal, SPI Co. utilizes Eco-friendly irradiation technologies in order to improve the health and well-being of the society. In this way, SPI Co. warmly welcomes all professionals of irradiation community (gamma, x-ray, and e-beam) to come along with us for playing a viable role in the public health.

Current status of irradiation industry in Iran:
 
Our investigations at Shar Parto Iranian company (SPI Co.) show that the trend of radiation processing industry in Iran is growing rapidly. Currently, there are just two irradiation centers under operation in Iran.

Irradiation facilities in Iran:

Gamma Irradiation Center (GIC), Tehran (Established in 1985) 
The history of radiation processing in Iran dates back to the establishment of Gamma Irradiation Center (GIC), IR-136 in 1985 in Tehran. As the name indicates, this facility uses Gamma Irradiation.

Yazd Radiation Processing Centre (E-Beam; Launched in 1998) 
The Yazd Radiation Processing Centre (YRPC) was launched in January 1998 and uses E-Beam technology.

Both of these Iranian irradiation centres centers are under supervision of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI). Food irradiation, radio sterilization of medical products and to some extent polymer modification are performed in these centers with the total irradiated volume about 36,000 cubic meters per year.
 
Schematic view of Shahr-e-Kord multi-purpose irradiation facility scheduled to be operational by mid-2017; Capacity 2MCi CO-60.
(Operated by Shar Parto Iranian- Private Joint Stock Company).
 

The promising news is that the there are two irradiation centers under construction and scheduled to be operational in 2017. 
Shahr-e Kord Multipurpose Gamma Facility 

The biggest multipurpose gamma irradiation facility in Iran is named Shahr-e Kord Multipurpose Gamma Irradiation Facility (SMGIF) with the throughput of 100,000 cubic meters which will be put into full operation by SPI Co. (Private Joint Stock Co.) in the heart of Iran, Special Economic Zone of Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari Province.




Shahr-e Kord Multipurpose Gamma Facility 

A multipurpose gamma irradiation facility named Bonab Industrial Irradiation Unit (BIIU) with the annual throughput of 50,000 cubic meters is also under construction (See below).
Bonab Industrial Irradiation Unit 
The main objectives of these multipurpose gamma irradiation facilities will be gamma sterilization of health care products and food irradiation. By operation of these two facilities, the Iran's total throughput of the irradiated products will rise to 186,000 cubic meters per year. Additionally, SPI Co. has also been issued two other principal approvals by AEOI for construction of two more irradiation plants in the country.

Irradiated products:
The following is a table of the types and categories of the most common products
irradiated in Iran.

 
Food Products 
Medical Items 
 
Spices 
Baby Powder 
 1.  Dried vegetables  Sutures
 2.  Herbs    Cosmetics
 3.  Starch  Drug intermediates
 4.  Cereal  Vaseline Gauze
 5.  Shallot  Sterile guaze 
 6.  Onions  Disposable clothing 
 7.  Rice flour   Food packaging
 8.  Tea  Dental floss 
 9.  Cumin  Medicine bottles 
 10.  Pepper  Surgery gloves 
 11.  Mushrooms  Bandages
 12.  Celery  Bone powder 
 13.  Flowers  Eye patches 
 14.  Ginger  Implants
 15  Soups  Syringes and needles 
Labeling (with the Radura logo) is not mandatory for food products in Iran but it is required for medical items.

Pictures of gamma irradiated food products treated in Iran.
 
 
Semi-ready to serve soups made by Amadeh Laziz Company. Some ingredients in these products are irradiated to reduce bacteria at Gamma Irradiation Centre (GIC) using Gamma Irradiation. Photos courtesy http://en.amadehlaziz.com/ 

Picture of gamma sterilized medical device. 
Irradiated Vaselin Gauze 
References: 
[1] http://www.fao.org/iran/fao-in-iran/iran-at-a-glance/en/.
[2] http://www.tpo.ir/index.aspx?fkeyid=&siteid=1&pageid=6479.  

Ehsan Eftekhari-Zadeh
Irradiation Specialist and Director of International Correspondence
Shar Parto Iranian Company (SPI Co.)
MYTH of the MONTH: "Irradiation destroys essential vitamins and other nutrients." By Russell Stein

Myth
"Irradiation destroys essential vitamins and other nutrients."
 
Reality:
This statement is incorrect. Although irradiation can reduce some vitamins and other nutrients, it does not destroy them nor significantly alter the amount of nutrients relative to the total diet of the consumer.  

Food treated by irradiation is generally as nutritious as, or better than, the same food treated by the conventional familiar processes such as cooking, drying, or freezing. Numerous studies conclude that irradiation has no significant effect on the nutritional value of the macronutrients within foods (proteins, lipids, carbohydrates). Micronutrients, especially certain vitamins, can be reduced by irradiation, but generally these same vitamins are similarly reduced by the other commonly used food processing methods. Even simple storage can lead to major loss of certain vitamins.

The significance of any loss of specific vitamins must be evaluated relative to the role of the irradiated food as a source of that particular vitamin in the diet of the consuming public. This consideration is heavily weighted by the regulatory agencies in their evaluation of petitions for clearance to irradiate any food. The FDA, World Health Organization and the American Dietetic Association have all considered the nutritional aspects of irradiated food and endorsed the process.

An excellent argument can be made that by destroying pathogens in raw food, irradiation allows safer consumption of these foods thereby increasing their overall nutritional value. On August 22, 2008, the FDA approved the use of irradiation on fresh spinach and iceberg lettuce. Their safety review specifically addressed the effects of irradiation on vitamins and nutrients on products often consumed raw. On February 25, 2014 they reaffirmed their conclusion that food irradiation is nutritionally safe:

"In summary, based on the available data and information, FDA concludes that amending the regulations, as set forth below, to allow for the use of ionizing radiation to treat iceberg lettuce and spinach up to a maximum dose of 4 kGs.

Russell Stein 
GRAY*STAR, Inc.
Also in the News: Seventh Annual Chapman Phytosanitary Conference (March 21-22 , 2017 ):
Registration is now open for the 2017 Phytosanitary Irradiation Forum.  The agenda for the 2017 Phytosanitary Irradiation Forum at Chapman University is now available for viewing on the website.   There is an excellent roster of speakers who will provide a comprehensive introduction to phytosanitary irradiation, treatment protocols, global use, as well as a deeper look at the logistical aspects of treatment and international trade of irradiated fruit. Registration has been brisk and hotel rooms are filling up, so you are urged to register soon. 
 
Many thanks to Gold sponsor, Mevex, silver sponsors, Steritech and CGN Dasheng, and Bronze sponsors, IBA and Nordion, for supporting this forum. We look forward to seeing you at Chapman in March.  Sponsored by Chapman University, the USDA and the FAO/IAEC. Registration is $100.

North Bay Produce to Begin Importing Peruvian Figs and Pomegranates; By Robert Schaulis (January 26, 2017):
Mark Girardin 
North Bay Produce 
TRAVERSE CITY, MI - In a major move for a US company, North Bay Produce has begun importing two new offerings from Peru. In January, the USDA-APHIS approved shipments of fresh pomegranates and figs from North Bay Produce shareholder Agricola Athos in Lima, Peru.

"Without the vision of Jorge Checa of Agricola Athos, the valuable cooperation of SENASA PERU, USDA-APHIS, Gateway America and Federal Strategies, we would not have been able to make this vision become reality," said Mark Girardin, President of North Bay Produce, in a company release. "Their hard work and expertise has been invaluable throughout the process. North Bay is very proud to have worked in conjunction with these organizations to become the first importer of Peruvian figs and pomegranates."

North Bay Produce and Agricola Athos are making Peruvian figs available in the US. The figs are irradiated at Gateway America, Gulfport, MS. 
Agricola Athos has been growing figs for over twenty years, and the grower's experience in the category has resulted in exceptional quality fresh figs imported to Canada, Europe, United Kingdom, Asia, the Middle East, and now, the United States.

The company's fresh figs will be available in clamshells and bulk tray packs January through May.

Agricola Athos first began planting Wonderful variety pomegranates in 2000 in a joint venture on the North Bay, SA farm. The company currently harvests two early varieties of pomegranate in addition to the Wonderful. These varieties have been bred selectively for color, flavor, shelf-life, and size, and through the company's efforts the company is now able to provide the U.S. market with 5-20 count, 3.8 kilo cartons of pomegranates from January through April, with storage fruit available into July.

Fresh figs and pomegranates will arrive in North America by air and sea, and will be trucked to Gateway America to be irradiated. After that, product will then be shipped to North Bay Produce's Mid America facility in Mascoutah, Illinois, and directly to distribution warehouses.

Irradiated pomegranates from Peru are now available in the United States. 

Agricola Athos is one of the largest producers of figs and pomegranates in the Southern Hemisphere.
North Bay gets OK for first fresh figs from; The Packer; By Jim Offner (January 19, 2017):
Fresh figs from Peru will soon be on American dinner tables thanks to North Bay Produce and Agricola Athos. Irradiation is a mandatory treatment for import to US.

Months after the U.S. Department of Agriculture approved imports of Peruvian pomegranates and figs, Traverse City, Mich.-based North Bay Produce Inc. announced the agency is allowing it to receive its first shipments of Peruvian figs.
The product is coming from Lima-based North Bay Produce shareholder Agricola Athos. Currently, Agricola Athos is exporting fresh figs to Canada, Europe, United Kingdom, Asia and the Middle East.

"North Bay and Agricola Athos have been working on this program for more than 20 years, and we are very proud that North Bay is the first importer of Peruvian figs," North Bay president Mark Girardin said in a news release. "

The black mission variety figs will be shipped by air and trucked to Gateway America in Gulfport, Miss., for irradiation. The fruit then will be shipped to distribution warehouses direct or to North Bay Produce's mid-America facility in Mascoutah, Ill., and shipped out depending on customer logistics. The fresh figs will be offered in clamshells and bulk tray packs.

The product will be available from January through May, the company said.
In August 2016, the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service said Peruvian pomegranates and figs may be exported to the U.S. if they ship in commercial consignments and are subjected to measures to mitigate the spread of plant pests.

Pest mitigation protocols for Peruvian pomegranates and figs will include irradiation, inspections and a phytosanitary certificate from Peru's national plant protection organization.

Fig exports should exceed 5,000 tons, worth more than $15 million, according to Peruvian government estimates.  Agricola Athos is one of the largest producers of figs and pomegranates in the Southern Hemisphere.
Opinion: Be Wary of Food Scares;  By Debbie Schiffelbein; Garden City Telegram  (January 16, 2017):  
The following is written by John Schlageck, a leading commentator on agriculture and rural Kansas. Born and raised on a diversified farm in northwestern Kansas, his writing reflects a lifetime of experience, knowledge and passion.

With some of the negative publicity about this country's food supply, some folks have concluded the best plate may be an empty plate. How else are they going to avoid killer popcorn, monster tomatoes, drug-treated cattle, radioactive chicken and toenail hotdogs?

If you're totally disgusted about what you read or overwhelmed by news reports that question the safety of your food, you're not alone.
What can you do?

To begin with, exercise common sense. In our country, people are living longer and healthier lives than ever before. Over-consumption can indeed pose a health hazard, but scientists do not believe specific foods are health villains.

To provide an abundant, safe, reliable and inexpensive food supply, most of us are dependent on modern agricultural practices and food techniques. Some would argue we do not need GMOs (genetically modified organisms), fresh produce like tomatoes because there is already too much food and we don't need some of these items because they are luxuries anyway.

This is a shortsighted, naïve attitude. This country, and hungry people around the world, will always need more food. We must always find ways to produce more efficiently in this country. Continued change and advances in technology will be the only thing that provides answers to an ever-growing population with additional food demands.

Anyway, why shouldn't we have access to delicious vegetables all year round? Especially when the increased intake of fresh fruits and vegetables has been scientifically proven to be healthy and reduce the risk of health problems.
Critics of technology have been around since the first caveman rounded off the square edges of a stone block and chiseled out the first wheel. Most people fought the coming of steam locomotives and buggy makers cried out against the coming of the Model T.

In agriculture, new plant varieties created with these techniques will offer foods with better taste, more nutrition and longer shelf life. Farmers will be able to grow these new varieties more efficiently, leading to lower consumer costs and greater environmental protection.

Soybeans that produce high oleic oil containing less saturated fat and require less processing, cotton plants that fight pests or produce naturally colored cotton, reducing the need for chemical dyes, and bananas that deliver vaccines to fight enteric diseases are just a few examples of what's in store.
Sound far-fetched?

Probably the same reaction my father would have had if someone told him his son would go to a supermarket and buy things like navel oranges and seedless watermelons.

Steam pasteurization, food irradiation, genetically modified grains can best be summed up in one word - PROGRESS.

Food safety has always been an emotional issue. Reactions to some of these food scares confirm the adage that a rumor can travel halfway around the world before the truth pulls on its boots.

Too often today, most news translates into "bad" news. The prospect of scare headlines is often irresistible.  The agricultural industry must continue to step forward to tell its story. Scientists must step forward to clear up some of the misinformation in the press.

Until this occurs, be wary of food scares. On the other hand, don't forget to eat and drink from our food supply. It is the safest, best tasting in the world.
Radurafoodirradiation.org is an excellent source of information on food irradiation.

Food Irradiation Update is published by Ronald F.  Eustice and sent to you through the sponsorship of 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
Phone: 612.202.1016
reustice@gmail.com