Food Irradiation Updates

Published by Ronald F. Eustice and sponsored  by GRAY*STAR Inc.
July 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  
Interest in irradiation of foods is growing daily. The volume of foods being irradiated is reaching record levels. Much of the activity is for use of irradiation as a phytosanitary intervention, but the volume of seafood irradiation is also growing. Distribution of
Food Irradiation Update  is worldwide; best yet it's free! Please forward this newsletter to your business and professional contacts and encourage them to subscribe. Contact us with questions you have about irradiation and irradiation service providers. We're here to help you.

Featured Article: Pakistan: Land of Opportunity for Phytosanitary Irradiation; By Ronald F. Eustice
Pakistan is full of mangoes ...Delicious mangoes, some of the world's best.
These days, the markets in Pakistan are full of mangoes - the most delicious fruit of the country. Pakistan is the World's fifth largest producer and third largest exporter of mangoes. Pakistani mangoes enjoy a prominent position in the international market due to taste, popularity and demand.

In Japan, Pakistani mangoes are being sold for $4 a piece whereas in Pakistan, three kilos of mangoes can purchased for that same amount. Pakistan is the land of unrealized export potential. 

Pakistan is especially famous for a variety of mango known as Chaunsa. This variety of mango is mainly produced in Mirpur Khas Sindh and Multan, Sahiwal Punjab in Pakistan. Chaunsa was originally made popular by Sher Shah Suri throughout the subcontinent.

Pakistan is especially famous for a type of mango known as "Chaunsa."
Due to demand, Chaunsa mangoes are heavily exported to the Middle East, Europe and most recently to the United States. All mangoes entering the United States must be irradiated due to phytosanitary regulations established by USDA/APHIS. The pest of concern is a weevil that bores into the seed of the mango. The only way to eliminate the eggs, larvae and emerging insect is with irradiation, a process which penetrates deeply into the fruit and reaches the seed. Irradiation at 400 Gray is the required dose. Currently only irradiation on arrival into the US is allowed for Pakistani mangoes. In 2017, approximately 40,000 pounds of mangoes were exported to the United States. This is a small part of Pakistan's mango production but it is a lucrative market.

Mangoes from Pakistan cannot be exported to Japan, the US and other countries, unless the stringent export requirements are met. The importers know that harmful pests would enter their countries by "hitch-hiking" on untreated mangoes. It is therefore a requirement of the importing countries that the mangoes should be subjected to Vapor Heat Treatment (VHT) and/or irradiation before export. VHT uses saturated water vapour of higher temperatures that sterilizes the pests without the use of chemicals, however high temperatures used to kill insects also damages the fruit. 

Irradiation is becoming the preferred method for phytosanitary sterilization. Irradiation eliminates the fruit flies effectively in an environmentally-friendly manner. With irradiation, mangoes and other fruits are exposed briefly to a radiant energy source such as gamma rays or electron beams. USDA requires on-site supervision of the irradiation process.

Attractive and sturdy packaging is especially important for export markets
Pakistan is welcoming overseas experts to oversee the irradiation process and identify fruits with export potential. Attractive and sturdy packaging is of critical importance. The packaging plays an important role in exporting any commodity. It should be of the international standards which should be followed. It should also be done with technical advice from a foreign specialist.

MYTH of the MONTH: "Any commercial irradiator can be used for any food irradiation process."  By Russell Stein
"Any commercial irradiator can be used for any food irradiation process."

Technically true. Economically uncomfortable.

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 up 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.

A commercial 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 commercially viable.
When Goldilocks 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 Stein 
The US proposes importing avocados from Ecuador
Fresh Plaza (June 25, 2018): 
Avocados from Ecuador will soon be on US grocery store shelves.
QUITO: The US Embassy in Ecuador reported on June 21, that the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) of the Department of Agriculture of that country (USDA) proposed allowing the entry of Ecuadorian fresh avocados to the United States. 

After a thorough review, APHIS scientists determined that the fresh Ecuadorian avocado can enter safely the US under the Systems Approach method, which protects US agriculture against the introduction of pests. 

This approach includes a series of measures that producers, packers, and shippers must comply with and that minimize the presence of pests before shipment to the United States. 

In this case, the approach includes requirements at the production sites, packing plants, the shipment of commercial shipments only, and inspection at the port of arrival. 

Each shipment must have a phytosanitary certificate and an additional declaration stating that these conditions have been met. 

The avocado that can't be exported under the systems approach, may be exported to the US if subjected to irradiation, a treatment approved by APHIS, the statement added. APHIS will consider all comments made on the proposal until August 14.
Source: EFE

Mango exports break all records this year ; Times of India (June 27, 2018)
India's export of irradiated mangoes to USA reaches all-time high.

India has exported around 1,190 tonne of mangoes to the United States this season all-time high. 

The country's mango export to the US recorded a rise of 11 percent as compared to last year's figure of 1,072 tonne.  However, the exporters had projected around 30% rise in figures, but the recent farmers' strike affected the supply of mangoes drastically.

It is mandatory to irradiate mangoes before exporting it to the US. They are processed at three locations in the country - Lasalgaon irradiation centre of Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), Vashi (Navi Mumbai) Irradiation centre of Maharashtra State Agriculture Marketing Board (MSAMB) and Bangalore irradiation centre.

"Lasalgaon irradiated 470 tonne of mangoes, while Vashi irradiation plant processed 620 tonne and the remaining 100 tonne were processed at Bangalore," an official from the irradiation centre said.

"We had projected 30% rise in export of mangoes during the mango season of 2018, but rise in export was only 11%," he added. Explaining the reasons, the official said that Quarantine officers from the USA visit irradiation centres during mango season and the whole process of irradiation of mangoes is carried out under their supervision.

"This year, the visit of quarantine officials was delayed by 15 days. Moreover, supply of mangoes was affected due to farmers strike from June 1 to 10. This somehow affected the export of mangoes. Otherwise, mango export to USA would have touched 1,400 tonne " the official said.

"The export of mangoes to USA is gradually increasing every year. Last year, there were only 12 exporters sending mangoes to the US. This year, the number of exporters has increased to 21 and it may increase for next year," an official from Vashi Irradiation centre said.

The BARC had set up the irradiation centre known as Krushak-Krushi Utpadan Sanrakshan Kendra at Lasalgaon - around 70 km from Nashik - to irradiate the agricultural commodities for preservation in 2002. The plant was dedicated to the nation by the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on October 31, 2002. Earlier, Lasalgaon was the only irradiation centre in the state to process mangoes. But MSAMB set up a new irradiation centre in Vashi around three years ago and has been processing mangoes meant for export to the US.

Ecuador: Fruits and vegetables on their way to the US: FreshPlaza (July 5, 2018)
Ecuador has 110 fresh fruit and vegetable products; irradiation is helping access new markets.
The US market is increasingly open to new products from Ecuador, after this South American country started sending fresh fruits and vegetables there last year.

Ecuador has a list of 110 different fresh products. Papaya access was approved in 2013; pitahaya in 2016; and the access for blackberries, raspberries, and peppers in 2017. This year, the US approved the entry of tree tomatoes from Ecuador and it should grant access to avocados within three or four months.

This, according to the Inspection Service of Animal and Plant Health of the United States Department of Agriculture (APHIS), responsible for evaluating and analyzing the risk for the entry of these products.

According to data from Pro Ecuador, the South American country started to export pitahaya to the US in 2017, a year in which exports amounted to $1,387. Between January and April of this year pitahaya shipments already amount to $3,442.

Last year the country's blackberry and raspberry exports totaled $97,000, and in the first four months of this year they amounted to $22,000. Pepper exports in 2017 amounted to $9,000, and between January and April 2018 they stood at $7,000.

Pro Ecuador has no report on papaya exports as, even though they were approved five years ago, it was only until last June when Rilesa, from Santa Elena, sent the first 40-foot container to Miami, Florida. The company has been preparing to make this shipment since 2014, when in planted macaw and Hawaiian papaya trees.

Esteban Espinoza, an agricultural specialist from Aphis, said the access granted to a product was a technical decision that didn't involve trade issues, and was carried out on the requests made by Ecuador. He also said that to consider the entry of a new product, the counterpart of Aphis, which in the case of Ecuador is Agrocalidad, must first make the request to this entity.

After the request, Aphis initiates the scientific technical evaluation of all the pests that could arrive in the shipments and defines mitigation measures.
Irradiated avocados from Ecuador will soon be in the US

Regarding the avocado, Espinoza said the Aphis had published at the end of June a proposal of the document that details all the requirements that the product must meet to be exported to the US.

The prerequisites for avocado include sending the fruit under a Systems Approach to prevent the introduction of pests. This means producers must comply with the cleaning of crops, that there are no fallen fruits in the field or overripe fruit, and a cleaning, selection, and quality control process in the packing and export plants.

For other varieties, such as the Guatemalan variety, Aphis has proposed the use of irradiation for exports which would applied in the port of destination by an agreement signed two years ago with Agrocalidad. "The irradiation in a treatment plant cancels any possible presence of flies or insects because these mosquitoes can't reproduce after irradiation," he said. 
Link to article ... 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





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