Food Irradiation Updates
Published by Ronald F. Eustice and sponsored by GRAY*STAR Inc.
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:
Congratulations to Steritech Pty, Ltd.
based in Queensland, Australia for continuing to move food irradiation
forward. On 8 January, 2015, Steritech received approval from the USDA
to begin export of tropical fruit to the USA. The list of fruits and
vegetables being irradiated in Australia is impressive and expanding
rapidly with more than a dozen items approved by Food Standards
Australia New Zealand (FSANZ). Australian exports of irradiated produce
to New Zealand have grown steadily since 2006. The expansion into the US
market is a huge step forward for irradiation. With new approvals and
new markets opening worldwide there's plenty to be excited about. Happy
FEATURED ARTICLE: An Adjuration for Radiation; Jeff Hansel, Post Bulletin (December 16, 2014):
ROCHESTER, MN: Have you ever eaten ground beef, sprouts, dairy products, chicken, cilantro,
Ron Eustice: Irradiation Advocate
ready-to-eat salads, shellfish, fresh produce, cheese or frozen foods?
foodborne illness outbreaks have occurred in all of those -- and more
-- within the past two years, according to records kept by the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
illness outbreaks have become a seemingly ever-present facet of U.S.
life. But there's a way to intervene, says the retired executive
director of the
Minnesota Beef Council
Ron Eustice says irradiation could dramatically
improve food safety. Eustice has long been an advocate for irradiation
and remains, even in retirement, the go-to
expert, even though he now splits his time between
During a recent visit to a sale of his brother's surrogate-born purebred holstein heifers at the
Olmsted County Fairgrounds
Eustice spoke with the Post-Bulletin about his belief that irradiation
is an underutilized tool in the fight against foodborne illness.
In 1997, he said, there were massive recalls of ground beef because of the bacteria Escherichia coli 0157:H7.
"If you've got
people getting sick and dying, and other people becoming permanently
disabled, because of something that can be avoided completely, we
should be doing that," Eustice said.
Tens of millions of pounds of ground beef were being recalled.
"I was on three TV stations one night. The next day, Michael Osterholm (an infectious disease specialist who was then director of the
Minnesota Department of Health
) called me and said, 'Ron, I saw you on television,'" Eustice said.
Eustice that he ought to be talking about the need for irradiation of
beef, instead of giving excuses about food safety.
the research, agreed, and two years later, "we served, for the first
time, irradiated ground beef at the Minnesota State Fair." Most who
tried it said they'd buy it if it were available at the grocery store.
says food irradiation uses ionizing radiation to kill bacteria and parasites that would otherwise cause foodborne illness.
Much food already
is irradiated and consumers eat it daily with no effects on its
nutrition or health effects, Eustice said. For example, irradiation of
wheat flour has been approved by the
since 1963 to
control mold. White potatoes, pork, fruits and vegetables, herbs and
spices, meat and poultry have all received the
stamp of approval for irradiation to prevent problems such as bacterial pathogens, insects and parasites.
The beef industry put many safeguards in place, even before irradiation grew in use.
"Your chances of
getting E. coli today are probably greater from the lettuce that you
put on your hamburger than from the hamburger itself," Eustice said.
All ground beef from Schwan's and
is irradiated, and clearly marked as such.
"The beef industry has
been able to do a pretty good job of producing safe food," Eustice
said. But, he said, "we still have kids getting sick. We still have
older adults getting sick." The incidence of E. coli has gone down, but
it hasn't gone away.
Companies that use
irradiation have never since had a recall on ground beef, Eustice said.
In the meantime, other companies have dealt with nationwide
recalls. "We're talking dozens or
hundreds," Eustice said. Precooking and multiple safety techniques,
such as production facility sanitation, help. But that's not enough for
"I'd like to see
more companies doing irradiation," he said. "It's like an insurance
policy. You know you're not going to get sick from irradiated ground
beef." Irradiation, he said, can
take care of bacteria in leafy greens, and the internal portions of
root crops, extending foods' shelf life.
The U.S. imports mangos, guavas, lychees and other produce from
. In order to enter the U.S., that produce must be irradiated, Eustice said. "It's mandatory," he said. This new focus on produce, he said, is the growth area for food production. "This is the most exciting chapter of this whole experience," he said.
Link to article...
MYTH of the MONTH: By Russell Stein
"Any commercial irradiator can be used for any food irradiation process."
"Any commercial irradiator can be used for any food irradiation process."
Technically true. Economically uncomfortable.
presented with various choices of meals and lodging. Most of these
choices provided nourishment and rest. However, only one of each
of the options was "just right".
Many food and
non-food products are irradiated. The properties of these products
vary greatly as does the purpose of irradiating these products.
Further, the logistics for handling different products vary from one
industry to another and even from one company to another. It is
important that the design, location and operation of the irradiator is
"just right" to minimize costs, or at least right enough to make the use
of a facility economically feasible.
The following are
some of the key product and process variables that factor into the type
of irradiator that would minimize costs:
Dose: There are many different reasons for irradiating different
products. To achieve the desired effect, different doses are
required. For example, to stop potatoes from sprouting, a minimum
dose of as little as 30 Gray is required. However, NASA requires a
minimum dose of 44,000 Gray to irradiate meat for astronauts.
Imagine an irradiator with a continuous conveyor system optimized to
irradiate the astronaut's meals. To process potatoes in that same
irradiator would require the conveyor to travel roughly 1,500 times
faster. There might be ways of running the potatoes, but they
would not be optimal. Similarly, irradiating the astronaut's
turkey would take 1,500 times longer when processed in an irradiator
designed for potatoes.
Density: The density of different products varies greatly. Generally
speaking, as the density of the product increases, the penetration of
the radiation through the product becomes more difficult. In
essence, the inside of the product is shielded by the outside of the
product. The effect of this shielding is a function of
density. This property ultimately affects the dose uniformity
throughout the product. It can be compensated for by configuring
the thickness of the product being irradiated, but that might affect how
the product is normally handled and thus not optimal. For many
products, dose uniformity is not an issue. However, for some
products, such as food, dose uniformity is a major factor. The
design of the irradiator is dependent on the dose uniformity
requirements of the products serviced. Another role that density
plays in the design of an irradiator is related to how the product is
conveyed through the irradiator. Higher density products are, by
definition, heavier for the same volume of material. A conveyor
system designed for high density (heavy) products could be used for both
high and low density products. However, the construction of
physically stronger conveyor systems requires more and heavier
structural components. These conveyor components will absorb a
portion of the radiation intended for the product. For this, and
similar reasons, a unit designed for heavy products will not treat low
density products as efficiently as an irradiator designed specifically
for low density products. On the flip side, to run the same volume
containers of high density products in a low density irradiator would
overload the conveyor system's weight limits. Smaller volumes of
the high density product could be run, but this would not be optimal.
Flexibility: Dose and density are key factors in the design of an irradiator.
There are many more. Ideally an irradiator would be solely
designed and optimized for one product at one dose, one density, one
package size/configuration, and the specific production volume of that
product to run the irradiator 24/7/365. [An irradiator designer's
dream!] Unfortunately, for the irradiator designer, the current
food products being irradiated do not have the production volumes for a
dedicated unit. So, some flexibility needs to be incorporated into
the design of irradiators to accommodate similar products and similar
processes. The irradiation of perishable foods presents new issues
that require greater design flexibility. The current logistics of
perishable foods dictate that irradiators need to be able to run both
very small and very large lots of products and to be able to efficiently
change from one product to another. For some perishable foods
such as fruits and vegetables, seasonality becomes a major factor.
Generally speaking, the more flexible the design and operation of an
irradiator, the higher the costs.
irradiator that can be used for any process will not be as viable as an
irradiator dedicated to one specific product. But an irradiator
designed for one specific food product would not currently be
looks for an irradiator to process her porridge, she needs to factor in
the specific processing and logistics of her porridge and determine what
is "just right".
Link to article...
Russell N. Stein
ALSO IN THE NEWS: Gateway America: Making Food Safer for Americans;
GULFPORT, MISSISSIPPI: When you purchase food from a grocery store or restaurant, you
Gateway America has become the leader in food irradiation in the Southeastern USA.
shouldn't have to wonder if it is safe to eat. Fortunately, in the U.S., food safety is a top priority.
One new company in Gulfport is helping maintain the safety of the food we eat.
Food Safety Benefits. Gateway America
uses a method known as gamma irradiation (or cold pasteurization) to
virtually eliminate bacteria, pests, decay bacteria, and pathogens like
E. coli, salmonella and listeria from poultry, seafood, red meat,
fruits, and vegetables.
is a clean, safe and environmentally friendly technology that has been
approved by the USDA since 1963 and is used in 37 countries.
it uses small amounts of radiant energy to change the molecular
structure of the pathogens and bacteria so they become harmless," says
Frank Benso, president of Gateway America. "The temperature change on
the product is less than half a degree. So you don't get any kind of
off flavors or anything of that nature, and in some instances, it
actually enhances flavor."
to other methods, irradiation is the safest and most effective way to
kill pathogens and pests, Benso says. "This technology really needs to
be embraced, and it will be once people understand the benefits," he
Jennifer Jenkins, manager at Crystal Seas Oysters in Pass Christian, has been working with Gateway America since May 2013. Crystal Seas sells raw, whole oysters to restaurants.
Crystal Seas Oysters, Pass Christian, Mississippi had led the way in making oysters safer.
irradiation to treat our raw oysters has allowed us to have a safer,
more consistent product," Jenkins says. "Our industry has so many
regulations, and it is very important for us to have a safe product. We
have had no problems - we have only had compliments on how great the
product turns out."
So far, Gateway America is the only irradiation facility located in a port city, which is good news for Mississippi's economy.
is becoming a logistics hub for other countries to deliver products
through Gulfport," Benso says. "The USDA mandates that some imported
products are to be treated with this type of technology, and it is
opening up trade agreements for specific commodities with countries
that previously bypassed the U.S. for these types of commodities.
Mississippi is leading the way for this new agricultural trade into the
companies like Crystal Seas benefit from irradiation as well. "It has
definitely helped us sell a lot more oysters in the summertime,"
Jenkins says. "This summer versus last summer, we are probably selling
three times the amount of oysters."
says after just over a year in business, Gateway America is
experiencing tremendous growth. He is optimistic about the future. "All
of these good things happening, and Mississippi is in the spotlight,"
he says. "You're going to see other states looking at Mississippi as a
leader in this technology."
Link to article...
favorite food soon to be on US dinner plates; Australian Broadcasting
Company (ABC Rural), By Marty McCarty & Eliza Rogers; (January 15, 2015)
|Two of Australia's most loved summer fruits could soon be on the table in American households.
mango and lychee growers hope the fruits of their labours will become
US favourites, following a new deal on export protocols.
Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce said it was a difficult agreement
to reach, because of US demands that the products be free of fruit fly.
"The Americans were very pleased with the work that's been done on irradiation [treatment]," he said.
"This hasn't happened overnight." The
mango industry hopes cracking the US market will help to double
exports, currently valued at $20 million, over the next three years and
provide higher returns for growers.
Dunmore, from the Australian Mango Industry Association, said before
sending off large volumes, it was important to first understand
consumer culture in the US. "This
season we're doing a few trial shipments, just to test how they handle
the logistics and getting an idea of consumer acceptance.
believe we've got the infrastructure, the high-quality orchards,
high-quality growers and we're developing the logistics to get the
fruit in great condition into the US."
Mr Dunmore expected Australian mangoes to attract a premium price in
the US, he didn't see prices reaching the $20 per fruit mark seen in
some Asian countries. "We're targetting the higher-end niche markets and we think there's great scope for us," he said.
take advantage of the trade agreement, farms will have to undergo a
thorough accreditation process to meet traceability, food safety and
chemical requirements. Fruit will be treated at approved irradiation facilities to kill any fruit fly prior to export.
Australian Lychee Growers Association chairman, Derek Foley, said his
industry first applied to export to the US 16 years ago. "We've actually got one farm, which just happens to be my farm, which is accredited to go to the US," he said.
that blueprint, next season we will then bolt on other farms to send
fruit to the US. We see that as a very big market." In the meantime, Mr Foley said, demand from his other export markets remains strong. He plans to send about 65 per cent of his fruit overseas this season to Singapore, Hong Kong and New Zealand.
Link to Article...
Moving Forward in Australia: USDA approves Steritech irradiation facility. Australian produce soon will be in US supermarkets; (January 8, 2015):
WASHINGTON, DC (January 8, 2015):
Steritech Pty Ltd., an irradiation facility based in Queensland,
Australia has received approval from the USDA to begin irradiation of
produce for entry into the US market.
The Australian mango and lychee industry have been working to gain market access into the United States for several years. Murray
Lynch of Steritech says, "We are extremely pleased to announce that the
Steritech Queensland facility is now USDA Approved, for
irradiating Australian mangoes and lychees for export into the U.S.A. We
are extremely confident that the first shipment of mangoes to be
exported to the USA will occur this season."
The bilateral agreement to export Australian mangoes and
lychees, will use irradiation as their mandatory phytosanitary treatment
for gaining market access. Trade in irradiated Australian mangoes
and lychees is scheduled to begin almost immediately. This
certification will also make it easier for other Australian fresh
produce industries to apply for market access into the U.S.
Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) approved an application made by
the Queensland Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry in
December to irradiate apple, apricot, cherry, nectarine, peach, plum,
honeydew, rockmelon, scallopini, strawberry, table grape and zucchini
(courgette) for phytosanitary purposes.
28 August 2014, FSANZ sought submissions on a draft variation and
published an associated report. FSANZ received forty six submissions.
FSANZ approved the draft variation on 4 December 2014. The Australia and
New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation2 (Forum) was notified
of FSANZ's decision on 15 December 2014.
already irradiates a number of tropical fruits including
mango, tomato, capsicum, mango, rockmelon, persimmon, lychee,
papaya (paw paw), breadfruit, rambutan, longan, carambola, custard
apple, mangosteen and rambutan.
Opportunities in Phytosanitary Irradiation for Fresh Produce Workshop
Opportunities in Phytosanitary Irradiation for Fresh Produce Workshop
March 25-26, 2015
Offered by USDA-APHIS and Chapman University
fifth annual "Opportunities in Phytosanitary Irradiation for Fresh
Produce Workshop" will take place March 25-26, 2015 at Chapman
University in Orange, CA. Over the past five years, Chapman University
has partnered with U.S. produce industries and USDA-APHIS-PPQ to conduct
quality studies on a variety of fresh fruit. This project is funded by a
USDA-FAS-Technical Assistance for Specialty Crops Grant and is designed
specifically to assist in developing export markets for U.S.
The meeting will include the following:
- Presentation of APHIS trade initiatives
- Trade potential for irradiated produce
- Results of research on quality of fruit and effects on invasive species
- Grocery industry success stories
Please register for this event at http://www.chapman.edu/food-irradiation-workshop.
More information about the 2015 Workshop will be posted as it becomes available.
We hope to see you there!
Contacts: Dr. Anuradha Prakash, Prakash@Chapman.edu
Margaret Smither, Margaret.R.Smither@aphis.usda.gov
The best food providers don't wait for - or hide behind - government.
Tenderized steaks and roasts can become contaminated with
deadly bacteria during the tenderization process.
Needles penetrate the muscle and may imbed the bacteria deeply
into the tissue. If not cooked to 160 degrees F. (70 degrees celsius),
or irradiated, these cuts can cause serious food borne illness.
That's why Costco already labels meat that is mechanically or needle tenderized. Others should do the same.
For those waiting for government, a
labeling rule which would require packages to provide cooking
instructions for the mechanically tenderized meat, had to be finalized
by Dec. 31 in order for it to take effect before 2018 under separate
requirements of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and
Philip Brasher writes in Agri-Pulse that FSIS first proposed the labeling for mechanically tenderized meat in June 2013 out of concern that
consumers aren't cooking the meat properly to eliminate pathogens. The
meat is tenderized with knives and needles that can drive bacteria
inside the product.
However, the meat industry strongly opposes the labeling requirement and USDA officials did not send the final rule to the White House Office of Management and Budget for review until Nov. 21. The regulation remains pending at OMB. Under FSIS
labeling regulations, the labeling rule could have taken effect as soon
as 2016 only if it had been cleared by OMB and approved by USDA by Dec.
The meat industry
has argued that the meat doesn't pose a significant risk and that the
special cooking instructions aren't warranted. In comments filed with FSIS in October 2013, the American Meat Institute said that
antimicrobial measures instituted by processors assure that the meat is
Link to article...
|foodirradiation.org is an excellent source of information on food irradiation.
irradiation is a cold pasteurization process that will do for meats,
produce, and other foods what thermal pasteurization did for milk
Ronald F. Eustice, Consultant