Food Irradiation Updates

Published by Ronald F. Eustice and sponsored  by GRAY*STAR Inc.
July 2017
Featured Article: India Government to  use irradiation to boost veggies' shelf life; Times of India (June 18, 2017):
Shelf-life of onions, potatoes and other perishable horticultural products can be greatly extended by using irradiation.
NEW DELHI: The recent crisis in Madhya Pradesh where farmers had to sell onions at throwaway prices or dump it in farms due to bumper production has prompted the government to look at the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) to set up irradiation facilities in the state and elsewhere in the country to deal with the problem of plenty by increasing the shelf life of perishable horticultural produce.

Though BARC has a small facility in Lasalgaon in Nasik which caters to farmers of nearby districts, other parts of the country face storage problems during high production years. Irradiation works by disrupting the biological processes that lead to decay. 

In case of onion and potato, the irradiation process causes the death of microorganisms and insects and impair their ability to sprout. 

During irradiation, the horticultural produce is exposed briefly to radiation energy which not only helps in killing harmful bacteria but also increases the shelf life of the produce.

"We will ask BARC to set up such facilities in Madhya Pradesh and other parts of the country for onions, potatoes and other perishable horticultural produce. Bumper production can be dealt with through better post-harvest management. We have the technology and it can be used for the benefit of farmers," agriculture minister Radha Mohan Singh said.

He said BARC had recently agreed to transfer technology to increase the shelf life of litchi in Muzaffarpur, Bihar. "Scientists at BARC and National Research Centre on Litchi have succeeded in treating the fruit and preserving it for 60 days at low temperatures," Singh said, referring to a different technology.

The Lasalgaon centre in Maharashtra, which was set up in 2002 at a cost of Rs 8-10 crore, has helped several farmers.

The ministry has now pitched for making such facilities available in other parts of the country where farmers could preserve perishable produce and sell it as per demand and adequate price in the market.
MYTH of the MONTH: "Food Irradiation." By Russell Stein
"Food Irradiation"
The term "Food Irradiation" has no practical meaning. "Food" is not irradiated. However, specific products, which are consumed as food, are irradiated for specific purposes.

A company that produces ground beef purchases an irradiator. Their plan is to irradiate their final packaged product to minimize the health threat of food borne pathogens for their customers. Do they become a Food Irradiation company? No, they are still a Meat Processing company.

A foreign company installs an irradiator to irradiate fruit for export to the United States. The purpose of the irradiator is to disinfest mangoes to assure that there are no viable insect pests that may potentially harm US crops. Are they a Food Irradiation company? No, they are a Fruit Exporter.

I want to have hamburgers tonight. I am going to go to my favorite market. There I am going to look for hamburger patties. Personally, I prefer the added safety assurance of purchasing irradiated patties, so if they have both irradiated and non-irradiated hamburgers in stock, I will purchase the irradiated burgers.

If they only have non-irradiated hamburgers for sale, I will still purchase them even if they do have irradiated mangoes on their shelves. I am not going to the store to buy "irradiated food". I am going to the store to buy hamburgers...and perhaps a can of creamed succotash.                             
Russell Stein 
Also in the News: Son La mangoes irradiated for export to Australia (June 29,  2017):
Irradiation is required by Australia for import of Vietnam mangoes.
NDO/VNA - The first batch of 3.5 tonnes of mangoes from the northern mountainous province of Son La underwent irradiation treatment on June 28 before being shipped to Australia.
The mangoes, weighing 450-650 grams each, were purchased by Agricare Vietnam Co., Ltd. at the price of VND22,000 (US$0.9) per kilogramme.

Mangoes are sold at VND16,000 (US$0.7) per kilogramme on the free market.
The Post-Import Plant Quarantine Centre under the Plant Protection Department worked with the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development to providing training for local farmers and help them set up dossiers on granting codes for two fruit cultivating areas in Van Lung village, Chieng Hac commune (Yen Chau district) and Noong Xom village, Hat Lot commune (Mai Son district).
The move is part of efforts to ensure local mangoes are qualified for shipment to the Australian market.

Son La is home to more than 4,000 hectares of mangoes, hundreds of which are grown in line with Vietnam Good Agricultural Practices (VietGAP).
New Zealand Can Import Winter Tomatoes Thanks to Australia's Food Irradiation Facility; IAEA (June 29, 2017):
Irradiated tomatoes from Australia are now available in New Zealand
The Bowen region is Australia's largest winter producer of vegetables. Tomatoes are by far its biggest crop, totalling US $120 million a year. Yet, even though it could offer consumers access to fresh tomatoes in the winter, its export market has been extremely limited. The problem is the Queensland fruit fly, an aggressive pest that Australia once controlled with pesticides that are no longer allowed. However, thanks to a protocol in place that links Australia to New Zealand, tomato exporters have another option: irradiation. Australia irradiates the tomatoes to ensure there are no pests and New Zealand accepts irradiation as proof of insect control. The Joint FAO/IAEA Division has worked with Australia and other countries to bring irradiation to the fore as a suitable replacement for chemical treatments.

The timing is perfect. As Australia's tomatoes are ripening, New Zealand's tomatoes are going out of season. And because the two countries have agreed that irradiation is a safe and appropriate way to meet insect pest control requirements, New Zealand can import irradiated winter tomatoes and a host of other fresh produce from Australia's orchards and fields.
Also in the News: Irradiation for Quality Improvement, Microbial Safety and Phytosanitation of Fresh Produce (July 3, 2017):
The latest information on phytosanitary irradiation.
Irradiation for Quality Improvement, Microbial Safety and Phytosanitation of Fresh Produce presents the last six and a half decades of scientific information on the topic. 

This book emphasizes proven advantages of ionizing irradiation over the commonly used postharvest treatments for improving post-harvest life of fresh fruits and vegetables to enhance their microbial safety.  

This reference is intended for a wide range of scientists, researchers, and students in the fields of plant diseases and postharvest diseases of fruits and vegetables. It is a means for disease control to promote food safety and quality for the food industry and can be used in food safety and agriculture courses.

Key Features
  • Discusses pathogen resistance to common chemical synthetic compounds
  • Presents up-to-date research and benefits of phytosanitary irradiation
  • Includes comprehensive research for alternative treatments for postharvest disease control
  • Provides the non-residual feature of ionizing radiation as a physical means for disease control to produce chemical free foods
Scientists and researchers in food safety/quality/postharvest; growers; regulators; processors; industry/government professionals; students; food technologists
Also in the News: Vietnamese dragon fruit exported to 40 markets; Vietnam News (June 29, 2017):
Food Standards Australia New Zealand support irradiation to help increase Vietnam fruit exports
HÀ NỘI - 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 ministry added.

MARD is coordinating with the Ministry of Industry and Trade to complete procedures to ship dragon fruit to Australia in 2017. 

In January this year, the Australian Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources released its final review of bio-security requirements for Việt Nam's fresh dragon fruit. 

In mid-June, a letter was sent to the Vietnamese Ministry of Industry and Trade by the Australian Embassy in Vietnam, detailing the process of opening the market for Vietnamese fresh dragon fruit. 

The 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. - VNS
Also in the News: Export value of Vietnam fruit and vegetables increases; Vietnam News (July 1, 2017):
Irradiation is a key element being used to expand Vietnam's fruit exports
HÀ NỘI - The export value of vegetables and fruits is estimated at US$1.7 billion in the first half of this year, marking a year-on-year increase of 45 per cent.

A report from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) revealed that vegetables and fruits witnessed the highest growth in the export value of agricultural products, indicating their potential to increase value as well as brand name in the world market.

The country's vegetables and fruits were exported to some 60 countries and territories and have become key export products of Việt Nam. Their export value is expected to increase to $3 billion this year.

China, the United States, Japan and South Korea are the four leading import markets of Vietnamese vegetables and fruits, accounting for 85 per cent of the total export value. During the period, impressive growth was witnessed in imports, including by Russia (67 per cent), Japan (56 per cent), China (50 per cent) and the United States (23 per cent), as well as South Korea (15 per cent) and Thailand (12 per cent). Việt Nam's vegetables and fruits not only maintained their growth rate in export, but also expanded their market.

According to the MARD's Plant Protection Department, the first batch of large green mangoes grown in the northern mountain province of Sơn La will be exported to Australia this month.

The giant-sized fruit, priced at VNĐ22,000 (90 cents) per kilogramme, will be exported by Agricare Việt Nam Co., Ltd. The department said the fruit was grown as per the Vietnamese Good Agriculture Practice (VietGap). The department cooperated with the Hanoi Irradiation Centre to irradiate 3.5 tonnes of Son La mangoes before shipping them to Australia on Wednesday. "We sent the mango samples to our Australian partners, who appreciated the high quality, sweetness and unique flavour of the fruit," a department representative said.

The export of Sơn La mangoes to Australia not only marks growth of the Vietnamese fruit in this market, but also opens opportunities for locals to develop agricultural production, especially orchards in northern mountain provinces such as Sơn La, where almost the entire population consists of ethnic minorities.

Director of Agricare Việt Nam Đàm Quang Thắng said the company was not competing in the ripe mango segment, which already had many foreign exporters. Meanwhile, Australia did not have many green mango products, therefore the company decided to invest in and develop this particular product.
"Sơn La is a northern mountainous area well-known for its mangoes and suitable for the growth of the giant mango variety on a large scale to export to Australia," Thắng said.
Deputy chairman of Sơn La People's Committee Lò Minh Hùng said the province had prepared plans to develop orchards, especially to grow mangoes, in recent years. The province currently had some 4,000ha of mangos, with productivity of more than 3,000 tonnes per year.

"The province will continue to support farmers to invest in the growth and production of mangoes according to market demand. If the market accepts the product, growers will expand production while businesses will be encouraged to join in exports," Hùng said.
Agricare Việt Nam plans to ship some five tonnes of mango to Australia per week. This amount is not big, but with Australia "opening the door," other markets could follow suit.
Head of MARD's Plant Quarantine Division Lê Sơn Hà said farmers previously were in the habit of growing and producing what they required, but now they would have to change their mindset, and focus on growing, treatment and packaging according to international standards and market demand.

"If Vietnamese fruit meets requirements to export to Australia and the United States, we believe our fruit can meet the demand of almost all world markets," Hà said. The province has set its key task, which is to develop orchards to replace short-term crops on hills to ensure sustainable living for local farmers. It expects to develop 100,000 ha of orchards by 2030, of which 50,000ha are for mango and the rest are for longan and avocado.

Hà said his department was working on procedures to ship lychee to Japan. At present, the country is already exporting longan to the United States, but it needed more time to further negotiate and complete procedures to export longan to Australia and New Zealand.

"Specifically, we will complete the process to export red-flesh and white-flesh dragon fruit to Australia this year," Hà said.

The growth in export of agricultural products and seafood accelerated after the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Area (AANZFTA) came into effect in 2010, which eliminated import duties.

The MARD, in collaboration with the Ministry of Industry and Trade, is working on ways to overcome technical barriers and open the Australian market to new fruits and types of shrimp. - VNS 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 





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