Published by Ronald F. Eustice and sponsored  by GRAY*STAR Inc.
January  2018
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 
Happy New Year! 2017 was an exciting year! Irradiation is well on its way to becoming mainstream and the preferred method to eliminate insect pests from imported fruit. Australia, Vietnam, India, Mexico, Peru and Caribbean countries are leading the way as the US continues to welcome tropical fruits that have previously never appeared in the produce aisle of major grocery stores. Today, irradiated produce is readily available at major retailers. The recap of food irradiation activities in 2017 is encouraging and exciting.

Congratulations to Lois Schultz of Wetaskiwin, Alberta, Canada whose speech won first prize at the 2017 Canadian Young Speakers for Agriculture Competition at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto in November. Her message is "right on target." Be sure to read every word of her speech.

Featured Article: 2017 In Review: A Great Year For Food Irradiation.  By Ronald F. Eustice
Happy New Year! The following is a recap of progress made worldwide with food irradiation. More food was irradiated in 2017 than in any previous year. Many countries have began to irradiate foods especially for reasons of market access. Irradiation is the preferred intervention to prevent the spread of harmful insect pests from hitch hiking in containers of produced destined for foreign shores.

Australia's first-ever shipment of fresh lychees into the United States landed successfully in December 2016, just in time for the pre-Christmas rush. 
To make the plane, the lychees had to go from far north Queensland, where they were picked and packed, to Brisbane to be treated and tested against strict protocols on chemical use, including zero tolerance for pests and defects.The fruit going to the US is being low-dose irradiated, the same as New Zealand, which is a very safe way to send the fruit according to Jill Hauser of the Australian Lychee Growers' Association.

Australian mango growers began their third U.S. season in January 2017.
After many years of work, Australian mango growers and exporters were finally able to ship mangoes to the US market by using USDA/FSIS-approved irradiation. Demand was high and the mangoes sold well. More mangoes from Australia are on the way.

North Bay Produce, Traverse City, Michigan began importing fresh irradiated pomegranates and figs from Peru.
The USDA-APHIS approved shipments came from Agricola Athos in Lima, Peru.  Mark Girardin, President of North Bay Produce,credits the vision of Jorge Checa of Agricola Athos, the valuable cooperation of SENASA PERU, USDA-APHIS, Gateway America, Gulfport, Mississippi and Federal Strategies, to make this vision become a reality.  The black mission variety figs were  shipped by air from Lima and trucked to Gateway America in Gulfport, Miss., for irradiation. The fruit then was shipped to distribution warehouses directly or to North Bay Produce's mid-America facility in Mascoutah, Illinois.

MARCH 2017:
The Seventh Annual Phytosanitary Irradiation Forum at Chapman University was a huge success. Nearly 100 participants from throughout the world were in attendance. The conference helped advance the primary goal to increase awareness and understanding of irradiation as a phytosanitary treatment and thus to facilitate the use of the technology to overcome barriers to trade. 
For your reference, presentations may be found online linked to the 2017 agenda at:

BONAMAR CORPORATION of Medley, Florida, a leading U.S. seafood company, based in Medley, Florida partnered with Gateway America, a food safety leader to launch a new product line marketed nationally as ES (Extended Safety) crab meat products. 
Gateway America, Gulfport, Mississippi, is a Primus Labs Certified Food Safety facility that will be processing Bonamar's crab meat under USFDA supervision. The rule applies to raw, frozen, cooked, partially cooked, shelled or dried crustaceans. It also covers cooked or ready-to-cook crustaceans processed with spices or small amounts of other food ingredients 

Ground Beef Irradiation:
The government of Canada announced changes to its food and drug regulations to permit irradiation of ground beef. It was a long time coming, though, with the beef industry having requested the change in 1998.

Canadian officials said the government views the technology as another tool for use by the beef industry in improving food safety. Irradiation is not intended to replace existing food safety practices for handling, storage and sanitation. It's purpose is to complement those practices. Canada has already approved irradiation to treat potatoes, onions, wheat, flour, spices and seasoning preparations. 

APRIL 2017:
The US Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) officially allowed the import of fresh star apple fruit from Vietnam into the US using irradiation as a protocol.
One measure identified in the pest risk analysis is that all consignments of fresh star apple fruit from Vietnam imported into the US will be required to be treated with irradiation prior to arrival in the US.  

Star apple fruit is the fifth Vietnamese fruit being exported to the US. The other fruit are dragon fruit, rambutan, litchi and longan.

The Lasalgaon irradiation centre in India began to process mangoes for export to Australia.
According to norms, irradiation of mangoes is mandatory before it is exported to Australia. Irradiation is also mandatory before export to USA. Irradiation centres at Lasalgaon and Vashi are already processing mangoes to be exported to USA.

Australia had given its nod to mango export from India in June 2016. But, the export could not take place as the mango season had almost ended by then. 

MAY 2017:
Fiji is seeking to increase the exports of its fruits and vegetables to international markets, and presented a proposal for an IAEA technical cooperation (TC) project to support food irradiation for the 2018-2019 cycle.  

Fiji's exports of fruit and vegetables are hindered by the presence of different species of fruit fly, which seriously affect the quality of Fijian export products such as okra, papaya, breadfruit, mango, eggplant and chili. To reduce the impact of insect pests, the country has been treating export products with High Temperature Forced Air (HTFA)1. Although an HTFA plant to treat fruit and vegetables was built in 1995 at Fiji's International Airport in Nadi, it has only provided a partial solution to the problem, as it cannot eliminate all the types of flies that affect Fiji's fruits and vegetables. 

To close the gap regarding safe fruit and vegetable exports, and in line with Fiji's Trade Policy Framework, the Government of Fiji government has decided to introduce irradiation to address the insect pest challenges facing the country's exports.

JUNE 2017:
Innova Agri Bio Park, a third-party gamma irradiation facility at Malur, near Bengaluru, India received the Australian government's approval to process and export Indian mangoes to Australia. Irradiation is a mandatory protocol. Mangoes treated at Innova's facility qualify for the phytosanitary and food-standard requirement for entry into Australia.

Agri Bio Park planned to export nearly 300 tonnes of gamma-irradiated mangoes to Australia from its Malur facility.   Innova's facility has also been approved by the US Department of Agriculture and the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority in India.

JULY 2017:
Vietnamese dragon fruit is being exported to 40 countries and territories, such as China, Thailand and Indonesia, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD).  

  The fruit is also entering new markets, including India, New Zealand, Australia and Chile. 

The Australian embassy also recommended supporting Việt Nam in asking permission from the Food Standards Australia New Zealand to use irradiation treatment on dragon fruit shipped to Australia. 

Dragon fruit is a Vietnamese agricultural staple with export earnings of US$895.7 million in 2016, making up 50.3 per cent of the country's fresh fruit exports and 36.1 per cent of overall vegetable exports

AUGUST 2017:
Pakistan was full of mangoes - the most delicious fruit of the country. In Japan, Pakistani mangoes were  sold for $4 a piece whereas in Pakistan, one can purchase three kilos of mangoes in that amount. But mangoes cannot be exported to Japan, the US and other countries, because Pakistan cannot meet stringent export requirements for their export. The importers fear that pests would enter their countries through untreated mangoes. It is therefore a requirement of the importing countries that the mangoes should be subjected to irradiation or vapor heat before export. 

Vapour heat causes deterioration of the fruit and shortens shelf-life whereas irradiation is environmentally friendly and extends the shelf-life of the fruit. Experts are concluding that irradiation is Pakistan's best option for market access.

Scientists in India announced that preservative-free, ready-to-eat food will soon be a reality. Scientists at Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) have developed a technology to make food items consumable for a longer period of time, while retaining nutritional value.

While a number of ready-to-eat options are available in India already, they are laden with preservatives and tend to lose their nutritional value and taste due to the method through which they are processed, which is by exposure to heat. BARC scientists use irradiation technology. Products are treated under gamma rays at very low temperatures - minus 40  degrees to prepare frozen food.

They have transferred irradiation technology to a meal manufacturing company that will soon launch ready-to-eat items such as chicken tikka.

Post-harvest food and grain losses pose serious challenges for most of African countries. According to estimates provided by the African Post-harvest Losses Information System, the value of post-harvest grain losses in sub-Saharan Africa could total US$4billion a year out of an estimated annual grain production worth US$27billion.

This is roughly equivalent to the value of annual cereal imports in the region during the same period. Given the near-doubling of global grain prices over the last decade, the value of current losses is likely much higher. Conservatively, such a magnitude of food loss could meet the minimum annual food requirements of at least 48 million people across the continent.

In Ghana a significant part of food crops produced is being lost due to number of reasons, including high moisture, pests and other diseases. In some cases as much as 35% of cereal and between 20-60% of tubers, root crops and bulbs are lost. Moreover, Ghana losses about 320 000 tons of maize annually, which accounts to 18% of the annual maize production

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has paved the way for imports of Vietnamese mangoes. 
Following a request from Vietnam's national plant protection organization, APHIS conducted a pest risk assessment and risk management document on the feasibility of mango imports. The agency concluded that fruit can be imported if it undergoes a systems approach that includes orchard requirements, irradiation treatment and port of entry inspection.

In addition, fruit can only be imported in commercial consignments, and it must be accompanied by a phytosanitary certificate issued by the national plant protection organization of Vietnam.

Vietnam expects to export about 3,000 metric tons of mangoes to the U.S. annually, less than 1% of all mangoes exported to the U.S.

For the first time a Darwin, Australia farmer Ian Quinn shipped mangoes to the United States with 720 trays sent in October.

Ian Quinn has been a staunch supporter of irradiation as a phytosanitary process. Mr. Quinn's success shows that irradiation is a tool that can be used by small farmers to add value to their products.

Over 200 farmers in  East Java, Indonesia have used the variety Inpari Sidenuk ("nuclear dedication" in Indonesian), arming themselves against the effects of climate change while doubling their yields to 9 tons per hectare. Inpari Sidenuk is one of 22 rice varieties developed by scientists at the country's National Nuclear Energy Agency (BATAN) using irradiation, a process often used to generate new and useful traits in crops.
The IAEA, in cooperation with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) supports researchers in 70 countries, including Indonesia, in the use radiation for agricultural research. The development of new, improved varieties helps increase food supply and therefore food security around the world.                                   
Ronald F. Eustice, the author of this article has been involved in the commercial introduction of irradiated foods since 1997 while he was serving as executive director, Minnesota Beef Council. During the past 20 years, Eustice has spoken at food safety conferences in more than 30 US states and ten countries regarding consumer acceptance of irradiated food in the marketplace.
Contact Ron Eustice at

MYTH of the MONTH: "E-Beam irradiators are faster than Gamma irradiators." By Russell Stein
 "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.                                    
Russell Stein 
We have the ability to do something about food waste; Alberta Farmer (December 22, 2017): 
Lois Schultz won top honours at the Canadian Young Speakers for Agriculture national competition during the Royal Winter Fair in Toronto. Her topic: Using Food Irradiation to Eliminate Food Waste.

Lois Schultz of Wetaskiwin, Alberta won top honours in the 2017 Canadian Young Speakers for Agriculture Competition at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto in November. Here is her prize winning speech.

Seven hundred and fifty million is a huge number!
But it seems even more gigantic when you discover that it represents the number of people in this world who don't have enough food.

Food waste. 
We see it all the time, and whether we acknowledge it or not, you and I are huge contributors to it. Because we waste an enormous amount of food at the production and consumer level, it is bound to have repercussions on our globe.

Just how much does it affect our entire society though?
Well, that's one of the things we are going to discover today. Next, we are going to talk about changing it. What's it going to take to get people to stand up and make a difference? Maybe it's time to stop just talking about the problem while we sit around our dinner tables with plenty of food. This time we need to make a change for those who don't have that privilege. And last but not least, I'm going to talk about a technology that could change it all.

What impact does food waste have on our globe?
According to National Geographic, approximately one-third of the food that this planet produces never reaches the table. One-third? That seems like an awfully steep number, when roughly 750 million people are suffering from undernourishment.

Imagine that you went home right now, and threw out one-third of the food in your fridge, freezer, and pantry. Now imagine every one of the 7.6 billion people that inhabit this earth doing that. I am not saying that everyone throws away that much food, but we need to have our attention brought to just how much wasting we actually do, because we hardly notice it.

At home, we waste because we don't plan. In restaurants, it's because food that isn't eaten or taken home must be thrown out. And in grocery stores, it's because food that has reached expiry or fruits and veggies that have lost their visual appeal are thrown out. It's even food that never reached consumers because it spoiled in storage and transportation.

People wonder how we are going to have enough food to feed our globe in the years to come. But we actually already produce enough food for the population increase. Unfortunately, because of prices, politics, and wastefulness, much of the world goes hungry. We certainly grow enough on this planet, we just need to learn how to manage it.

Making a change. What can we do here to improve the issue?
Maybe we could get a few tips from France. In France, supermarkets cannot throw out food. They are actually banned from doing so. It must be given to charity or donated to food banks. These laws don't just happen in a day though. In order to get processes like this started, we need to have influential people on board.

Like him or not, take - for example - David Suzuki. On the David Suzuki Foundation website, it gives a complete guide to recycling. People don't recycle just because they can. They recycle because someone important and influential says it's a good idea. This is the beauty of a bandwagon.

David Suzuki might not be the best person to ask about supporting agriculture though. Imagine if we could get someone like Mr. Chris Hadfield. This Canadian astronaut is well respected and has enough influence to convince a country that a change needs to be made. If we can get influential people, along with the government, to implement similar changes in Canada to the ones in France, we can not only limit food waste, but we can also help out those in need.

I've been on mission trips to Ecuador and seen families who have literally nothing. And all that makes you want to do is want to help, and we can. This doesn't mean that we can just give everything near its expiry date to charity though. It has to be safe as well. Which brings up a good question. What's a new way to make food safe?

I want to get you to think outside the box.
What if we thought about a big change, something that could limit food waste, make food safer, and last longer? A technology that could change it all: Food irradiation.
Food irradiation extends the shelf and storage life of foods through an ionization process. Ionization is basically what happens when you sterilize dental and medical tools. Irradiation takes away the bacteria, but leaves the nutrients. It can take perishable foods, such as meat, and make it resistant to E. coli and salmonella. It can take cheese and make it resistant to mould, and produce last longer without going rotten.

According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 50 per cent of all vegetables and fruit are wasted due to contamination and spoilage. Fifty per cent!
Think of all of the food that we could save by making food irradiation commonplace. Irradiating food results in a minuscule change to the sensory and nutritional values. And most importantly, contrary to popular belief, it DOES NOT make food radioactive!

Here is why this technology has not been widely accepted though: Because of its name.

In 2002, Health Canada announced that in addition to the extremely short list of foods irradiated in Canada, it was going to add ground beef to the list. But because of negative stakeholder reactions, it never completed this.

This is where we need that powerful influence to come alongside and show people that this technology is not out to get them. Maybe we could get the Honourable Justin Trudeau to take a selfie with the food irradiation symbol.

Knowing that one-third of the food that we work hard to produce doesn't even make it to the table is frightening. One-third of seed, fuel, fertilizer, and labour wasted - even though we have so many undernourished people in the world.

As we have seen in France though, there are excellent ways to reduce the waste and feed someone who doesn't have enough, so long as it's safe. If we can get influential figures such as Mr. Hadfield to come on side and encourage people to join the anti-food waste bandwagon, we are headed in the right direction.

This is one of those rare instances where bandwagons might work in agriculture's favour.

And lastly, let's get over the fact that it's called irradiation, and accept it because it can make a difference.

If thinking outside the box means that we can have more food to provide to those who do not have enough, then who are we to stand in the way? Get society to jump off the anti-irradiation bandwagon, and jump on the one that saves our world, and our people.

The Eighth Annual Chapman Phytosanitary Irradiation Forum moves to a new venue for 2018!
Hotel Centara Grand at Central Plaza Ladprao, Bangkok, Thailand
June 13-15, 2018
Organized in cooperation with the USDA, the International Irradiation Association (iia), the Thailand Institute of Nuclear Technology (TINT) and the Joint programme of the FAO/IAEA, the objective of this Phytosanitary Irradiation forum is to increase understanding of irradiation as a phytosanitary treatment to enhance global trade, to prevent invasive pests and to foster dialogue.

Registration will be available at
Dr. Anuradha Prakash,
Yves Henon,
Carl Blackburn, 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