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Food Irradiation Updates

  
Published by Ronald F. Eustice and sponsored  by GRAY*STAR Inc.
July 2015
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.
Food that has been irradiated is becoming increasingly available at retail stores in the US, New Zealand and elsewhere. Within the past few months we have spotted the Radura symbol on several food items from the Atlantic Coast to the Pacific Shores. We are pleased with the progress and have learned somethings along the way. 1). Consumers buy products, not technology. People buy a product because they want the product and not because a particular technology has been used to improve the product. 2). We are seeing negligible if any "push-back" on irradiated food at retail. The vast majority of consumers don't care and those that do care become increasingly supportive when they understand that irradiation is a USDA/FDA approved process to make food safer or protect our agriculture from unwanted pests. Good News!

Seen in Edison, New Jersey. Spot the Radura: 
Irradiated persimmon produced in South Africa by Mor International are now available in the US. Consumer acceptance has been excellent. Sales of South African fruit are surging in the US. 



IN THIS ISSUE

FEATURED ARTICLE: My visit to the Gateway America food irradiation facility in Gulfport, Mississippi; By Ronald F. Eustice

Oysters are arriving daily at Gateway America in Gulfport, Mississippi during the harvest season. 
We are reading more about food irradiation these days and much of that news is coming from Gulfport, Mississippi. USDA and FDA approvals, continuing outbreaks of foodborne illness and growing awareness of food irradiation as an effective phytosanitary treatment for imported fruit have generated rapidly growing interest in irradiation of food. My recent visit to Gateway America at Gulfport, Mississippi provided me with an overview of the opportunities to use irradiation as a food safety intervention, phytosanitary tool and as a technology to extend shelf life of perishable foods.
The receiving area at Gateway America in Gulfport, Mississippi.
Gateway America has cleared the path for overseas companies to export fresh produce to the US by using their facility as the headquarters for phytosanitary treatment to eliminate unwanted pests. Many countries, especially in Asia, already have irradiation facilities, however the USDA requirement that US inspectors be present in the country of origin when the produce is irradiated is a stumbling block. By having an irradiation facility at a US port of entry, foreign exporters can reduce expenses by eliminating the need for costly on-site inspection, a USDA/APHIS requirement. Gateway's ability to be a US country of origin treatment center to allow American farmers to export to other countries is another distinct advantage.
 
Two years ago, the USDA/APHIS certified Gateway America as a food irradiation treatment facility to eliminate unwanted pests in imported and exported fruits and vegetables. "Since then, the growth has been dramatic," says Frank Benso, President of Gateway America. Gateway is also approved to irradiate red meat, poultry, oysters, crustaceans and certain other types of seafood to reduce harmful bacteria to non-detectable levels.

Irradiation reduces the deadly vibrio bacteria in oysters to non-detectable levels.
Gateway routinely irradiates oysters from the Gulf Coast; persimmons from South Africa,  mangoes from Pakistan and a growing number of food items. Several additional items are on the immediate horizon.
Sales of Sharon fruit from South Africa are surging worldwide. All Sharon persimmons marketed in the US must be irradiated. Gateway America is the US irradiation service provider for South African fruit.
International interest in food irradiation is huge and growing. Ten countries have signed reciprocal trade agreements with the US for produce treated by irradiation for phytosanitary purposes, both import and export.  More are pending.
 
Reciprocal trade agreements are signed with the understanding that both signatory countries  are willing to receive products from each others countries. Recently Gateway has irradiated blueberries destined for India and the United Arab Emirates. Currently there great interest in the export of US produce to Mexico.
 
Consumers want imported fruit, but local farmers and government agencies don't want foreign pests that hitch-hike on the fruit and threaten our agriculture. At stake is the multi-billion dollar US produce industry. "Disaster is only one cargo container away," says Benso. Harmful pests such as weevils and borers hitch-hiking on imported fruit and vegetables could cost the produce industry billions.

Food irradiation is a required phytosanitary treatment for many commodities such as guavas from Mexico, dragon fruit from Vietnam, mangoes from India and Pakistan and many others.
Gray*Star's Genesis irradiation system and technology are key components of Gateway America's success.
Market Acceptance:
The volume of irradiated produce consumed in the United States has grown by over 400 percent since 2006. According to most recent available figures from the USDA, in 2012, over 27 million pounds of irradiated produce entered the US. Add an additional 12 million pounds of Hawaiian produce that must be irradiated as an entry requirement into the continental US; the annual total adds up to over 40 million pounds and is growing.
The Gateway America team with Ron Eustice, Food Irradiation Update editor
As more irradiated meat and produce becomes available at retail and food service, Benso believes consumers will be increasingly accepting of the process. Omaha Steaks, Schwans and Wegmans have marketed irradiated ground beef since 2000 with negligible consumer "push back."
 
The future is extremely bright for irradiation of meat and poultry. Benso says, "Irradiation will eventually become the preferred technology to enhance current Best Manufacturing Practices to make our food safer.
 
Recalls are the wake up calls to the industry and Benso believes that retail chains will eventually require processors to use irradiation on certain foods as the ultimate assurance of 'food safety.
 
Benso says, "The benefits of irradiation for the elimination of "pests of concern" along with the elimination of harmful bacteria to "non-detectable" levels without altering the taste, nutritional values or appearance of the commodities we have irradiated are providing positive results and that word is spreading.... the future is here!"
Link to article...
MYTH of the MONTH:"All foods should be irradiated." By Russell Stein

Myth: 

"All foods should be irradiated." 

Reality:

This notion is ill-conceived. Irradiation is a useful tool that can be used to improve the safety, quality and/or distribution of many foods.  Irradiation should be used by food companies when the benefits of its use are greater than the associated costs.

 

Both heating and irradiation have chemical, physical and/or biological effects on different materials.   We can, and do, employ both of these forms of energy to provide specific improvements to various food products.

  

Heat can be used to pasteurize certain foods. But all foods do not need pasteurization to be safe to eat. It can be used to cook food, but many of our foods are preferred uncooked. It can be used to bake bread, but we do not survive on bread alone. There is no reason to use heat processing on all food.

The irradiation process can be used to pasteurize certain foods. It can be used to delay ripening in certain foods. It can be used to kill insect pests in certain foods. For some foods it can be used to decrease flatulence. However, the specific effects are for certain foods and not common to all food. Similar to heat, there is no reason to irradiate all food.

  

Irradiation is a tool that can be employed on certain foods for certain advantages. Often there are competitive techniques that may be employed. For example, both heat and radiation can be used to kill microorganisms in food. However there are technical differences between the two processes. Irradiation is a cold process allowing product to be disinfected without cooking. The heat process also cooks the product.

  

Often this cooking is viewed as a benefit such as with canned peaches. For some foods the side effect of cooking might be viewed as a negative. Spinach salad uses raw spinach. Personally, it makes me a bit queasy imagining a spinach salad made from canned spinach. And yet, there is a separate market for canned spinach. By using a different process, the same vegetable is made into two different products. To reduce the threat of pathogens in spinach, we think of heat for canned...irradiation for fresh. For the record, I like fresh spinach and canned spinach, fresh peaches and canned peaches. Heck, I even like fresh, cooked succotash, but I love eating succotash right out of the can...cold!

  

The individual companies of the food industry determine if there is an advantage for each of their products to be heated, or irradiated, or processed in any other way. They weigh the advantages of each process against the costs of using that process. And the market determines if there is a willingness to accept, and pay for, these advantages.

The only process common to all food is that of digestion.

Link to article...  

Russell N. Stein

GRAY*STAR, Inc.

www.GrayStarInc.com

Also in the News: US Blueberries exported to India and United Arab Emirates...
A first.  Fresh Portal (July 1, 2015):
US blueberries reached markets in India and United Arab Emirates. First exports of irradiated US fruit.
POPLARVILLE, MISSISSIPPI: A blueberry cooperative based in the U.S. state of Mississippi has for the first time exported fruit to India and the United Arab Emrites (UAE), according to website Newsobserver.com.


Grower members of the Miss-Lou Blueberry Co-op, which includes farms in Poplarville, Purvis and Lumberton, reportedly shipped around 9,000 pounds (4 metric tons) to the emerging markets.


The story said the fruit was first taken to a food import-export operation in Gulfport called Gateway America, before being transported to Houston, Texas, where the blueberries were loaded onto planes.


The idea reportedly came about when Dinesth Shinde, the owner of Mumbai-based importer Anusaya Fresh Worldwide, visited Miss-Lou Co-op farms and decided he wanted to import U.S. blueberries. Anusaya Fresh will distribute the product throughout the two countries.

The U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council, which is a member of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS), helped by coordinating the exports, according to Newsobserver.com.


The Council's market development consultant Thomas Payne said the organization's long-term goal was to export 15% of the national crop, with India being a target market.

"To achieve this we need to succeed in countries such as Brazil, Russia, India and China. These markets are massive and complex and we'll need FAS' continued presence and guidance," Payne was quoted as saying. Miss-Lou Co-op president Tim Goggan reportedly said member growers would harvest about 2 million pounds (907 metric tons) of blueberries this year, with about 25% of them set for export. 

Link to article...

Also in the News: Sales for South African Sharon fruit surge; EuroFruit; By Fred Meintjes (July 7, 2015):
Hein Small of Mor International in South Africa celebrates the company's marketing success with Jaco Oosthuizen, Marketing Director of RSA Market Agents. Sales to the US have doubled thanks to irradiation.
SWELLENDAM, SOUTH AFRICA: South Africa's sharon fruit industry has apparently achieved further growth both abroad and at home this season, most notably in North America and its own domestic market.


With all of this year's export fruit now dispatched, the country's sharon fruit marketing campaign is set to continue in major international markets until the end of July.

And, despite the harvest being more at least at the same level as last year in terms of volume, fruit quality and pack-outs have reportedly been better this season, driving domestic and international sales.


Arisa, the central packing facility for South African sharon fruit located near Swellendam in the Southern Cape, is understood to have received around 7,000 tonnes of the fruit this time around. As a result, just short of 250 containers, or 4,000 tonnes, of the fruit packed at Arisa were shipped from Cape Town to destinations around the world. "We doubled our shipments to the US this season," said Hein Smal, spokesman for leading marketer Mor International in South Africa.


International increases

Gary Tuzzo, who represents MOR International in the US, confirmed there had been good demand for the South African fruit, with the local trade welcoming the extension of sales of the product in the US. "Sharon Fruit from South Africa was even sold in one of America's wackiest stores," Tozzo revealed, referring to a new listing at Jungle Jim's International Market, a specialist supermarket in Fairfield, Ohio, referred to as a foodies' theme park. "It's a place where the first rule is to treat customers like gold," he explained. "The second is to have fun doing it. People come from several states away for the unique shopping experience Jungle Jim's International Market offers.


"There is a wide selection of food from all over the world, red-hot deals and, of course, lots of fun. Sharon fruit totally fitted the profile and customers had fun trying them." As a relatively new product, sharon fruit certainly made in-roads in the international and local trade this year. Smal said arrivals in Canada were also well received and shipments to the Far East grew once again this year. "We also had success with arrivals in Africa, with Kenya being the most noticeable."


However, Europe and the UK continued to be the most important sales region for sharon fruit from South Africa. "Consumers like our product and we had a solid campaign," Smal noted.

Home comfort


But it is in South Africa where sales of the fruit have shown the most dramatic growth this season. "This is driven by high level sales and promotional campaigns in the wholesale market sector," Smal commented. "We are continuing our excellent partnership with RSA Market Agents and we had major success with market and informal sector promotions. This is the most vibrant sector of our economy and we have seen our sales increase dramatically this season."


With another month of sales to go in South Africa, there is confidence that more than 1,000 tonnes will be sold in the local market for the first time in one season. "At this stage we are running 300 tonnes ahead of last year and we are very pleased with progress."

The South African Sharon Fruit season is a relatively short one, from April to July. "Our success this year again prove that South African consumers are looking for new eating experiences and at every one of our promotions we saw great interest into tasting the fruit and then buying it," Smal concluded. "Thereafter we recorded repeat buys which is important for future growth."

Link to article...

{Editor's note... USDA/APHIS requires irradiation as phytosanitary measure for many South African fruits including persimmon.

Also in the News: Vietnam fruit exports to reach US$2 billion in 2015; VNS (July 8, 2015):
Vietnam expects to export fruit valued at US $2 Billion in 2015
HCM CITY  (VNS) - Fruit export turnover is expected to reach US$2 billion by the end of this year when businesses increase their exports, the Viet Nam Fruit and Vegetable Association has said.


For export markets with strict guidelines, businesses are improving quality, including the use of irradiation technology or sulphur dioxide fumigation. They are also trying to overcome technical barriers of import markets.


The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development said many choosy markets, such as the US and Australia, had allowed Vietnamese fruit exports, and Japan and Korea were expected to permit exports of some fruit.
Korea imports dragonfruit, and will begin to import mango and star apple from Viet Nam by the end of the year.


Japan's Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries issued an import license for mango from Viet Nam's Dong Nai Province after a Japanese business delegation visited Dong Nai to survey orchards in Xuan Loc District.

Japan is the second largest import market of Vietnamese fruit, with a market share of 8 per cent, after China. Viet Nam is now negotiating with Japan to export red-flesh dragonfruit. It now exports the white-flesh variety.

 

Viet Nam has completed procedures to export mangosteen and plums to China.

The Ministry of Industry and Trade said Viet Nam's export value of fruits and vegetables had seen strong growth in recent years.


In 2009, fruit export turnover reached $439 million and increased to $1.1 billion in 2013 and $1.5 billion in last year.
In the first six months, fruit export turnover reached $700 million.

 

Good signs

Nguyen Xuan Nhi, director of Tropical Fruit Export Ltd Co said the company has had seniority in exporting rambutan and longan to Europe since 2013, and now has an import partner in the US.


Nhi said: "Many more kinds of Vietnamese fruits and vegetables have approached strict export markets such as the US, Australia, the EU and Japan. This will be a driving force for local farmers to develop fruit gardens and expand growing areas."

In early June, France's Jeune Thanh Binh Co imported the first batch of lychees to France by air, opening more opportunities for other fruit exports as well, such as longan, mango and dragon fruit.

 

Jeune Thanh Binh Co has brought sulphur dioxide fumigation technology to Viet Nam under the support of French specialists. SO2 fumigated lychees can be fresh for up to five to six weeks.

 

According to the Vietnamese Commercial Office in Australia, from June 12 to 19, 17 tonnes of lychees were exported to Australia through Red Dragon Co, Anh Sao Duong Co, Fosti Co and Thien Anh Minh Co. -VNS

Link to article ...
Also in the News: Absolute top quality fruit is the key to developing a strong market for Australian mangoes in the US (July 8, 2015):
The first shipments of Australian mangoes arrived in the US earlier this year with good success. All Australian mangoes are treated with irradiation to eliminate introduction of insect pests. 

The first shipments of Australian mangoes arrived in the US earlier this year, with the industry hoping to build exports in the coming mango season.


The Australian Mango Industry Association's [AMIA] industry development manager, Trevor Dunmall, said it was vital for all Australian mangoes exported to the US to be top quality. "The most important thing about the US market is that we have to export quality fruit and make sure the quality is maintained right through the supply chain," Mr Dunmall said "Mangoes are sometimes a fragile fruit and need to be nurtured right from production through the supply chain and right to the consumer.

"US markets are really exciting for us, but we are treating it and we're encouraging growers to treat it with a little bit of caution, in that we need to get it right from the first day.


"Any errors or mistakes won't only reflect poorly on the grower, but it will also affect the whole trade. "So we all need to work together and make sure we know what the conditions of export are and meet those conditions."

 

Crop monitoring training for growers wanting to export their mangoes was held in the Northern Territory and Queensland this week. Mr Dunmall said growers needed to understand the conditions of export standards, which was crucial for Australian growers exporting quality fruit to the US markets.

 

"Growers shouldn't even think about exporting unless they are fully aware of the conditions underpinning exports," he said. "No one can afford to make an error in this area, the i's have got to be dotted and the t's have to be crossed.

 

"The growers and orchards have to be approved for export, they need to undertake an audit process with the Department [of Agriculture] and the final treatment stage is through an irradiation facility in Brisbane before air freight straight to Los Angeles."

Mr Dunmall said many mango growers had approached the AMIA about exporting fruit to the US.

 

"It's been a really good response, but it's early days yet and we need to work with those growers to make sure they are fully abreast with all those conditions and what they need to do to meet the protocol," he said.

 

"We certainly in Australia produce some great quality mangoes, but we have got to make sure we do everything right, so that when they arrive in the US they are still that great quality mango that most Australian growers enjoy."

Link to article ...
Pakistan Study shows 80 million mango export potential: Fresh Plaza (May 25, 2015):
Pakistan expects to export mangoes valued at US $80 million in 2015 
ISLAMABAD: 
Pakistan is the sixth largest mango producer in the world and can easily increase its exports up to $80 million, as compared to $60.7 million it earns now, if proper attention is given to control fruit fly disease, increase the number of hot water treatment plants, vapour heat treatment plants and irradiation facilities required by importer countries.

This is highlighted in a study on mango production and export from Pakistan prepared by a business professor of the Mohammad Ali Jinnah University, Dr Mohammad Rizwan-ul-Hassan. It highlights that the competitiveness of mango exports from Pakistan has improved during the last 10 years but the share of export against production do not show any significant improvement because a large part of crop is wasted every year due to lack of proper storage facilities.

The report also points out at the immense potential Pakistan has in mango production since the process requires involvement of large-scale human resources at different stages from production to packaging and export.

It said that expansion in mango export in terms of quantity and value will transform into improving welfare and raising the GDP of the country.

Highlighting the hurdles in mango production and increase in its export, it termed the fruit fly disease to be the major menace which resulted in action of quarantine departments of all major countries.

It said the hot water and vapour heat treatments along with irradiation facilities were the technical measures adopted to tackle the fruit fly disease.

In the case of Pakistan, the study pointed out that there were only three hot water treatment plants and not a single vapour heat treatment plant or an irradiation facility, required by the USA and Japan, respectively, for importing mangoes.

"In the global export market, quality and safety standards pose serious challenges for which concrete policy options in terms of storage, processing, packaging and pricing are needed from the ministry of commerce and Trade Development Authority of Pakistan," said Hassan. "Some potential markets for mango crop have not been exploited only because of specific quarantine requirements."

He said major mango markets were UAE, Saudi Arabia, EU, USA, Japan and those countries where there were large numbers of Pakistani expatriates.
Source: thenews.com.pk
Georgia oyster harvest closed early due to vibrio concerns; Savannah Morning News (May 30, 2015):

Vibrio is a serious food safety concern. Irradiation reduces this deadly bacteria to non-detectable levels.

Georgia waters are now closed to oyster harvest due to vibrio concerns

SAVANNAH, GEORGIA: Georgia waters closed to commercial and recreational oyster harvest on June 1st. The closure will be in effect until midnight on Sept. 30, state Department of Natural Resources official announced. A similar closure occurred in 2014 to meet the requirements of Georgia's Vibrio parahaemolyticus control plan.

 

Vibrio is naturally occurring bacteria found in filter-feeding shellfish. It occurs at higher concentrations during the months of the year when coastal water temperatures are warm. According to the Centers for Disease Control and the Food and Drug Administration Vibrio illness cases due to consumption of raw oysters are under reported. The onset of the bacterial illness generally occurs within three days and common symptoms include vomiting, abdominal cramping, diarrhea, fever and chills. Thorough cooking of oysters and other shellfish will generally destroy all bacteria including Vibrio.


"This closure ensures that Georgia meets requirements of the National Shellfish Sanitation Program to protect public health by implementing a (Vibrio) control plan," explained Dominic Guadagnoli, shellfish fishery manager for the Coastal Resources Division. "We expect this closure to have little adverse impact on recreational and commercial oyster harvesters since most individuals refrain from eating freshly-harvested oysters during the summer months when the combination of spawning and warm water makes oysters less desirable as seafood."

The harvest of clams from approved shellfish harvesting areas will be permitted during the summer months. "Unlike oysters, which are frequently consumed raw, clams are traditionally cooked with high heat - a process that kills the (Vibrio) bacteria," said Guadagnoli.


Georgia waters are closed to commercial and recreational oyster harvest effective 6 a.m. June 1 through midnight on Sept. 30, state Department of Natural Resources official announced. A similar closure occurred in 2014 to meet the requirements of Georgia's Vibrio parahaemolyticus control plan.


Vibrio is naturally occurring bacteria found in filter-feeding shellfish. It occurs at higher concentrations during the months of the year when coastal water temperatures are warm. According to the Centers for Disease Control and the Food and Drug Administration Vibrio illness cases due to consumption of raw oysters are under reported. The onset of the bacterial illness generally occurs within three days and common symptoms include vomiting, abdominal cramping, diarrhea, fever and chills. Thorough cooking of oysters and other shellfish will generally destroy all bacteria including Vibrio.


"This closure ensures that Georgia meets requirements of the National Shellfish Sanitation Program to protect public health by implementing a (Vibrio) control plan," explained Dominic Guadagnoli, shellfish fishery manager for the Coastal Resources Division. "We expect this closure to have little adverse impact on recreational and commercial oyster harvesters since most individuals refrain from eating freshly-harvested oysters during the summer months when the combination of spawning and warm water makes oysters less desirable as seafood."

 

The harvest of clams from approved shellfish harvesting areas will be permitted during the summer months. "Unlike oysters, which are frequently consumed raw, clams are traditionally cooked with high heat - a process that kills the (Vibrio) bacteria," said Guadagnoli. {Editor's notes: Irradiation of oysters is currently being used as an effective technique to reduce vibrio to non-detectable levels.} 

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 
Ronald F. Eustice | 13768 Trost Trail | Savage, | MN | 55378

 



 
 

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