Food Irradiation Updates

Published by Ronald F. Eustice and sponsored  by GRAY*STAR Inc.
June 2016
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.
The availability of irradiated foods in the US and elsewhere has dramatically increased in recent years. There are more irradiated foods available today that at any time in the past. In the US, the Radura symbol and the words "Irradiated" or "Treated by Irradiation" are required. For some food marketers this requirement has been perceived as a deterrent because of they believe that consumers will view the label negatively. While this may be a legitimate concern for a few, the label has not stopped millions of consumers from purchasing irradiated meat, seafood, produce and other foods. People buy products because they want that particular product and not because of the way it was processed. Some read labels carefully but most don't care, they just want to consume the product. In the case of irradiation, the label should be used to help educate the consumers and not scare them. Why was the product irradiated? We irradiate meat for food safety. We irradiate imported fruit to prevent harmful insect pests from destroying American agriculture. Under current FDA rules for the retail label we can either add to the 'requirement'...e.g. "Treated by Irradiation for Food Safety".  Or, make a case by case request for replacement wording for "Treated by Irradiation"USDA rules are slightly different but also allow for augmentation or replacement. Words such as "Irradiated for Food Safety" and "Irradiated to Protect Agriculture from Harmful Insect Pests" should become standard. Labelling can become a benefit and not a stumbling block. Schwans uses "Irradiated for Food Safety" on packages.  Information and education will help irradiation take its rightful place as the powerful tool it is.
Featured Article: Irradiation of meat, poultry and seafood;   By Ronald F. Eustice
Following a series of foodborne illness outbreaks involving deadly E. coli O157:H7 contamination of ground beef, FDA approved the use of irradiation of red meat in 1997. This approval came after thousands of Americans had become seriously ill and hundreds had died from the nasty bug.  Since then several other strains of harmful E. coli have been identified and some of these are equally virulent. Irradiation will destroy 99.999 percent of E. coli bacteria at doses regularly used. E. coli and Salmonella in ground beef and other foods are a serious threat to public health. E. coli O157:H7 is considered an adulterant by USDA; however, as of now Salmonella has not been declared as an adulterant in ground beef despite a huge number of illnesses attributed to contaminated ground beef.
In 2000, irradiated ground beef became commercially available at retail stores in the United States. Highly respected food companies such as Omaha Steaks, Schwans and Wegmans, an upscale retailer, began to offer and promote irradiated ground beef. Schwans and Omaha Steaks irradiated all the raw ground beef they sold. Wegman's continued to market non-irradiated ground beef and sold irradiated ground beef as a "value-added" product. All three companies followed USDA regulations as required regarding labeling of irradiated ground beef and found that the label was not a deterent to sales and in fact many of their customers chose irradiated ground beef specifically because they knew it was irradiated and therefore considered it to be a safer choice. Wegmans boldly displays the word IRRADIATED and the radura symbol on their packaging. Recently, Wegmans has expanded the marketing of irradiated ground beef, and are featuring it at their recently-opened restaurants. Based on information provided by irradiation service providers, I estimate that 15 to 18 million pounds of ground beef are irradiated annually. The volume has remained relatively steady for 15 years. Americans have consumed somewhere in the neighborhood of 150 million to 200 million pounds of irradiated ground beef since 2000. Consumer acceptance of irradiated foods in the US has been bolstered by annual sales of nearly 50 million pounds of irradiated fruit from Hawaii, Mexico, Asia, Australia and South Africa. Nationwide consumers in the US are warming up to the idea of irradiated foods as awareness increases. The same is true in Canada following massive meat recalls and dozens of cases of serious illness from deadly bacteria.

Wegmans Markets proudly displays the word IRRADIATED on their ground beef.
Since irradiated ground beef became available 16 years ago there have been no illnesses or recalls attributed to irradiated ground beef due to illnesses but non irradiated ground beef has continued to be a source of contamination with several strains of E. coli and Salmonella forcing numerous recalls and disease outbreaks accompanied by serious illnesses, devastating disabilities and some deaths. It is interesting that after the consumption of 150 million to 200 million pounds of ground beef, to my knowledge, there have been no lawsuits of injury or illness from consumption of the irradiated product. Meanwhile, non-irradiated ground beef continues to be a source of illness and litigation.

In 2012, Canada suffered its biggest ever E. coli outbreak when 18 people were infected after consuming beef products from an XL Foods Inc. plant in Alberta. This, in turn, triggered the largest beef recall in Canadian history.  Subsequent reports on the incident insisted that beef irradiation should be approved and used widely to prevent illness, death and disability as well as more of these recalls from happening again.

A few days ago, Health Canada announced plans to receive public comment on the possibility of allowing irradiated fresh and/or frozen raw ground beef for sale.The proposed amendments would "allow, but not require" packers and processors to use irradiation as "a tool to improve the safety of their products." Like all other irradiated foods, irradiated ground beef would need to be clearly labelled as irradiated.

The Canadian Cattlemen's Association had originally submitted a petition in 1998, and after careful study, Health Canada gave a positive recommendation. Public hearings were held across Canada with all view points welcomed. I attended public hearings in Winnipeg, Guelph and Montreal and heard many diverse views. Anti-technology activists were out in full force making the usual anti-irradiation claims based on deception, distortion, misinformation and lies. One critic in Montreal voiced his opposition to irradiation because it would destroy the food's soul. When did a hamburger patty obtain a soul? Despite unanimous evidence that irradiation was effective, safe and would save lives, Health Canada did not complete the final steps and move forward. In 2013, the Canadian Cattlemen's Association requested that Health Canada bring back the process for approval of beef irradiation in Canada. I congratulate the Canadian Cattlemen's Association for being persistent and hope that common sense will prevail. Many local groups such as the Saskatchewan Cattlemen's Association have publicly voiced support for irradiation as have prominent university scientists, health experts and consumer groups. Bruce Cran of the Consumers Association of Canada, which has been lobbying for irradiation, is pleased with Health Canada's decision to move forward on ground beef. But he says chicken and salad vegetables should be irradiated, too. "The science has been in on this one for decades that it does no harm," says Cran, who adds the risk of foodborne illnesses is high without it. "They're going to have a catastrophe if they don't do something, in my opinion."

We are seeing credible educators speaking out in the media about irradiation's many benefits. Next it is essential that these folks and hundreds of other proponents show up "en masse" at the hearings across Canada to voice support. I can assure you that the "antis" will be there to spread mischief and someone absolutely must speak up to counteract their nonsense.

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 18 years Eustice has gathered statistics showing the worldwide growth and consumer acceptance of irradiated food in the marketplace. 
MYTH of the MONTH: "Irradiated foods taste bad." By Russell Stein
Irradiated ground beef has been successfully marketed in the US for 16 years. There is near-unanimous agreement that the taste of irradiated ground beef is identical to non-irradiated.
"Irradiated foods taste bad."

Some foods irradiated at certain doses can have flavor changes.  However, if they have a bad taste they will not be marketable.  Therefore, irradiated food that is sold in stores does not taste bad.

The irradiation of food is a gentle process when compared to other processes such as heating.  Normally, there is very little effect on the food.  For some foods, there are effects on taste that are detectable at certain dose levels.

When a company is interested in irradiating their food product they test samples of the food by irradiating them to the highest dose that they would expect commercial lots of the food to receive.  They need to handle these samples as close as practical to the way that they would handle commercial product. Product handling and shipping might have an effect on the food product that is independent from the irradiation process.  When performing these tests, it is also important to send a control sample along with the samples to be irradiated.  This control should be treated as close as practical to the samples that are irradiated...effectively irradiated to a zero dose.  A second control sample should be kept at the place of origin to be able to compare this sample with both the irradiated samples and the "zero dose" control sample.  By using this approach, the food company can determine if the handling, shipping and/or the irradiation has had any effect on their product.  Often these effects can be minimized or eliminated by changing the way the product is handled.

Once a company has tested their product, under their handling conditions, they need to evaluate the product to determine if there are any effects.  More importantly, if there are any effects, they need to determine if those effects would have a negative impact on marketing the product.  Obviously, if they do, then they would not market the product.   Sometimes there are negative effects that are minimal (would not affect the marketing of the product) or positive effects that might actually enhance the marketing of the product.  The important point is that if a food company determines that there is a significant negative effect on their product, it would not be marketed and therefore, not available to consumers.  A company is not going to sell a food product that has a bad taste.

Many years ago when it was realized that there may be advantages to irradiating food, extensive "basic" research was performed.  Food was irradiated at very high doses to determine what effects the irradiation had on food.  One of the questions was how high a dose could a specific food be irradiated to before developing a bad taste?  Obviously, to determine this dose, it was required to irradiate the test samples until a bad taste was detected.  This leads to a statement that I hear quite often:  "I've read that irradiated [fill in your favorite food] taste horrible!"  That leads to my questions:  "What was the dose that it was irradiated at, and under what conditions, such as temperature?"  Similarly, any food will also taste bad if overcooked.  If a hamburger was cooked at 600 degrees for an hour, I'm sure you would not find it on the menu at your local burger joint.  Does this mean that we shouldn't be able to buy properly cooked hamburgers?

Irradiation may have a negative impact at a certain dose on specific foods.  If they do, then they will not be marketed.  However, this should never be used as an excuse not to allow the use of irradiation on food.  If this argument were used on the cooking of hamburgers, our holiday menu would be severely impacted.

On a side note, sometimes the irradiation of certain foods has a positive effect on taste.  Personally I prefer the taste of irradiated crab meat.  But, then again, I love creamed succotash!
Link to article ....

Russell Stein 
After decades of consultation, Health Canada to propose allowing irradiated ground beef to be sold; CTV News (May 31, 2016):

Health Canada will soon allow public comment on the possibility of allowing irradiated fresh and/or frozen raw ground beef for sale.

The Canadian Cattlemen's Association (CCA) originally submitted a petition for approval in1998 but despite a positive recommendation, no action was taken. The CCA submitted a second request for approval in 2013.
OTTAWA: Canada's federal government is considering adding fresh and frozen raw ground beef to its list of foods that have been approved for irradiation. Health Canada has said it would open the matter up to public comment soon, with the comment period expected to last 75 days.

The proposed amendments would "allow, but not require" packers and processors to use irradiation as "a tool to improve the safety of their products." Like all other irradiated foods, irradiated ground beef would need to be clearly labelled as irradiated, according to the labelling requirements set out in regulations. The new rules would also set a maximum absorbed dose for the products, as well as the allowable radiation source for the intended purpose.

In 2013, the Canadian Cattlemen's Association requested that Health Canada bring back the process for approval of beef irradiation in Canada. The association had originally submitted a petition in 1998, and Health Canada had given a positive recommendation on it but the final steps were not completed.

Irradiation has been allowed for refrigerated and frozen meat in the U.S. since 1997, but has been cleared in Canada for use on only a few products: potatoes and onions, wheat, flour and whole wheat flour, and whole or ground spice and dehydrated seasonings.
Editor's note: Citizens of Canada and of the US are nearly indistinguishable. We not only share a common language and a common border, we share the same values, the same ethnicities, the same challenges and much more. Both countries claim to have a safe food supply. The process (pronounced prah-cess in the US) to approve red meat irradiation in the US was initiated in 1997 and irradiated ground beef was on store shelves in May 2000. The process (pronounced proc-cess in Canada) to approve beef irradiation began in Canada in 1998. Eighteen years later Canadian consumers still do not have the opportunity to serve irradiated ground beef. The difference between a pr(oh)cess in Canada and a pr(ah)cess in the US appears to be that in Canada the process takes longer.
Saskatchewan cattlemen support Health Canada proposal for sales of ground beef; CKRM RADIO; (May 31, 2016): 
Irradiation of ground beef will help make it one the safest foods on the dinner table.
REGINA: Saskatchewan cattlemen are supporting a regulatory change proposed by Health Canada next month to approve the sale of irradiated ground beef.

The department says fresh and frozen ground beef will be added to a list of foods already permitted to undergo radiation treatment to prevent the spread of bacteria. Ryder Lee is the chief executive officer of the Saskatchewan Cattlemen's Association.

He says cattlemen have been pushing for irradiation for several years. Lee is not worried about consumer reaction, saying irradiation is another tool available to processors to reduce the threat of bacteria in food.

Beef irradiation is long overdue in Canada; By Sylvain Charlebois; Battlefords (Nova Scotia) News-Optimist; (June 7, 2016): 
The benefits of food irradiation far outweigh the risks (if their are any).
More than 40 years of research on food irradiation shows that the process is trustworthy.
HALIFAX, N.S.  - Will the benefits of food irradiation be overwhelmed by Canadians' fear of the technology?
Food irradiation may not sound appetizing - images of X-ray machines and atomic bombs quickly come to mind for many people. But Health Canada is considering the use of food irradiation for beef products.

And so a national debate will be sparked.

The technology has been around for almost 60 years. Germany first used irradiation on spices in 1958. The process is quite simple and fast, and industry uses it for two fundamental reasons: it makes food safer and extends the shelf life of products.

Food products approved by Health Canada for irradiation are briefly exposed to alpha or gamma rays that may kill E. coli, salmonella and other microbes, as well as some parasites and moulds. It is essentially a cold process - it doesn't change the food's temperature - and foods go in and out of a machine in seconds.

Studies show clearly that when irradiation is used as approved, it can reduce the amount of disease-causing micro-organisms without changing the nutritional integrity of the food.

The food does not become radioactive. Irradiation is a safe and effective technology that can prevent many food-borne diseases.

But the technology is costly: machines can cost millions and require highly-skilled operators. However, since most food companies are always one food recall away from disaster, many industry experts feel it is worth the investment.

Canada allows irradiation on products such as flour, spices, onions and potatoes - but not on meats. However, more than 55 other countries allow irradiation on meat, including the United States. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has allowed the use of irradiation on beef for almost two decades and recently approved the use of irradiation on lobster, shrimp and crab.

In 2012, Canada's largest-ever E. coli outbreak originated at XL Foods in Brooks, Alta. Many consumers became ill after consuming beef processed by the company. A report on the incident recommended that beef irradiation be approved and widely used to prevent similar occurrences.
And the risk of similar occurrences is rising. Many experts expect bacteria migration to become more prominent as a result of climate change, so allowing companies to use the most efficient tools to protect the public only makes sense.

It is well past time Canada moved forward on the technology. More than 40 years of research on food irradiation shows that the process is trustworthy.
However, the Canadian public still needs to know how their food is prepared. Although Canadian labelling rules for prepackaged food are strict, most consumers are still oblivious to the fact that they eat irradiated food products every day.

That needs to change. Proper labelling should allow consumers to accept the technology, or at very least make a choice, as American shoppers can when choosing beef products.

Health Canada conducted an exhaustive study on irradiation in 2002 and determined that Canadians were not ready. Since then, consumers have begun to show signs of acceptance, just as they have accepted genetically-engineered crops. Indeed, some Canadian consumer groups are now very supportive. And studies are making a case that better technology must be used to make our food safer and more affordable.
It is important, of course, to remember that science is not an absolute. Research should always continue to better understand emerging risks and develop better technology to mitigate those risks.

We once harboured similar fears about microwave ovens. Today, more than 90 per cent of Canadian households have a microwave. Barely anyone expresses concerns about the technology that has made our lives easier. It's human nature that, over time, technology becomes part of us.

Soon enough, the benefits of food irradiation will overwhelm Canadians' fear of the technology.

Sylvain Charlebois is Dean of the Faculty of Management and Professor in the Faculty of Agriculture at Dalhousie University.

General Mills Inc. Recalls 10 Million Pounds of Flour in E.Coli Outbreak; NBC News (June 1, 2016): 
The recall could have been prevented with irradiation.
MINNEAPOLIS:  General Mills has recalled10 million pounds of flour because of suspicions the product might be contaminated with a dangerous strain of E. coli bacteria. 
It's a huge recall of a item not normally linked with outbreaks of foodborne illness, but state and federal health officials say flour seems to be the common link among 38 illnesses in 20 states.

"General Mills is collaborating with health officials to investigate an ongoing, multistate outbreak of E. coli 0121 that may be potentially linked to Gold Medal flour, Wondra flour, and Signature Kitchens flour (sold in Safeway, Albertsons, Jewel, Shaws, Vons, United, Randalls, and Acme)," the company said in a statement. 

"Out of an abundance of caution, a voluntary recall is being made. To date, E. coli O121 has not been found in any General Mills flour products or in the flour manufacturing facility, and the company has not been contacted directly by any consumer reporting confirmed illnesses related to these products." 
Many of the people who got sick reported having eaten raw flour, in cookie dough for instance. Cooking kills most bacteria, including E. coli.
"Flour is an ingredient that comes from milling wheat, something grown outdoors that carries with it risks of bacteria which are rendered harmless by baking, frying or boiling. Consumers are reminded to wash their hands, work surfaces, and utensils thoroughly after contact with raw dough products or flour, and to never eat raw dough or batter," the company said. 

E. coli bacteria are just about everywhere and they are normally harmless residents of the digestive tract. But there are a few forms that can cause diseases. E. coli 0121 is one of them. The last big national outbreak of disease from E. coli 0121 was in clover sprouts in 2014 - nineteen cases were reported.

The CDC estimates that about one in six Americans are made sick by foodborne illnesses every year - that's about 48 million people. About 3,000 die of these infections.

Irradiating food more appetizing than you think, says Dalhousie  University food expert; Chronicle Herald (June 6, 2016):
Say the word 'irradiation' and some people's minds turn to Hiroshima and deadly nuclear fallout. But ask Dalhousie professor Sylvain Charlebois and he'll reply it's a loyal ally in the war against illness or even death on the dinner plate.

OTTAWA: Sylvain Charlebois is a proponent of zapping meat and other foods with alpha and gamma rays to wipe out harmful pathogens such as E. coli and salmonella. Many Canadians still fear radiation but Health Canada is now considering using irradiation to make beef safer. And Dal food expert Charlebois says there is nothing to worry about.
"The issue is about fear and risk perception," said Charlebois in an interview. He likens irradiation to flying, which still makes some people afraid, despite plane travel being statistically safer than driving. Studies show when irradiation is used properly, it can reduce the amount of disease-causing microorganisms without changing a food's nutritional value. Nor does food become radioactive as some people fear.

For Charlebois, the key to helping people understand this is to let them to become comfortable with the technology by requiring proper labelling. "You want people to know what they're buying, " said Charlebois. "Without clear labels on packages you're not allowing consumers to befriend the technology."

In 2012, Canada suffered its biggest ever E. coli outbreak when 18 people were infected after consuming beef products from an XL Foods Inc. plant in Alberta. This, in turn, triggered the largest beef recall in Canadian history. "A subsequent report on the incident insisted that beef irradiation should be approved and used widely to prevent more of these recalls from happening again," reads a media release sent by Charlebois to the Chronicle Herald.

In XL's case a lax 'food safety culture' was blamed for the outbreak, but Charlebois warned that climate change will likely mean more food poisoning outbreaks, as a warmer planet allows bacteria to spread more easily. "We are going to see an increase in the number of outbreaks and recalls," said Charlebois.

While irradiation will remain a powerful weapon against bugs, the technology itself can cost millions. Expensive machines also need highly-skilled operators. However, as some food companies are one food recall away from closing down, many industry pundits feel that irradiation technology is a solid investment.

Irradiation was first used by Germany in 1958 on spice products. Nearly 60 years later, Canada allows its use on flour, spices, onions and potatoes, but not on meat products. But more than 55 countries allow irradiation to be used on meat, including the United States. The U.S. Food and Drugs Administration has approved the use of irradiation on beef for almost two decades. It recently extended the use of irradiation to lobster, shrimps and crab.
Link to article ...
Vietnam Irradiation center set to bolster fruit production (June 5, 2016):
Upgrades on the Ha Noi Irradiation Center are expected to pave the way for more Vietnamese fruit, particularly those from the northern region, to reach overseas consumers.

Director of the Center Đặng Quang Thiệu said the upgrade was approved last year, with funding of some VNĐ20 billion (US$896,400). Previously, the centre, founded in 1986 under the Việt Nam Atomic Energy Institute, could irradiate some agricultural products such as onions, garlic and dried medicinal herbs, but it operated on a small scale and not professionally.

The upgrades, which include adding a 200sq.m freezer storage unit, modern irradiation equipment and other technology, will allow the centre to irradiate fruit such as lychees and longans this year onwards, he said.Irradiation is considered a safe technology that helps to kill all bacteria and microorganisms and keep fruit fresh for longer periods, even up to a few months. Major fruit importers such as Australia, Canada and the United States require fruit to be irradiated before they enter the countries..

Director Thiệu said when fruits grown in the northern region were irradiated in Hà Nội, fruit firms were able to save some VNĐ16 million per tonne, as they no longer had to transport them to the south for irradiation.

The centre can handle up to 10 tonnes of fruit daily, using techniques similar to those used in neighbouring countries.

"The time needed for transportation has been slashed, the shelf life has increased and the fruit stays fresh longer," Thiệu said.

He said the centre was considering offering a discount of some VNĐ6,000 per kilogramme to fruit firms to get more of them engaged in the practice.

Lê Sơn Hà, head of the Plan Quarantine Division under the Plan Protection Department, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, said last year was the first year that Việt Nam had sent lychees to the United States and Australia, where there are strict quarantine regulations on fruit. At that time, firms in the north had to transfer their lychee crops to the south for irradiation treatment, which increased transportation costs. The upgraded Hà Nội Irradiation Centre will help resolve that transportation issue.

Hà said the Plant Protection Department had sent the relevant documents and samples to Australia for verification. "If the Australian partners accept, this year's lychee for export will be irradiated in Hà Nội," he said.

The irradiated fruits are also expected to attract domestic consumers who are growing more concerned about food safety and consuming high-quality produce.

According to the Việt Nam Fruit and Vegetables Association, last year, export revenue reached $1.85 billion for fruits and vegetables, an increase of more than 24 per cent over 2014. Việt Nam exported more than 40 kinds of fruits and vegetables to over 40 countries and territories. Fastidious markets such as the United States, Australia, the European Union and Japan have opened their doors to Vietnamese fruits such as longans, lychees and mangoes.

India's mango export to US touches a new high; The Times of India; By Tushar Pawar (June 6, 2016):
India's mango exports to the USA have reached record levels and may reach 650 tonne this season. 
NASHIK: Mango export to the US from the Lasalgaon and Vashi irradiation centres have recorded a new high of 500 tonnes till June 4 of the 2016 season. The earlier record was 328 tonnes during the corresponding period last year. 

Officials associated with the sector said mango export to the US might touch the 650-tonne mark by the end of this season, which may conclude by the first or second week of July. 

As per the norms in the US, irradiation of mangoes is mandatory before exporting them to that country. Accordingly, mangoes are irradiated at the irradiation centre of Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) at Lasalgaon in Nashik district. Moreover, the Vashi (Mumbai) irradiation centre, which has been set up by the Maharashtra State Agriculture Marketing Board (MSAMB) recently, has also started irradiating mangoes from the current season. 

Vashi-based Agrosurg Irradiators India is commercially operating the Lasalgaon centre of BARC, while MSAMB is operating the irradiation centre at Vashi in Mumbai. 

Speaking to TOI, an official from Argosurg Irradiators said, "We processed 328 tonnes of mangoes at the Lasalgaon centre last year. The current season is better as we have already crossed last year's figures and touched a new high of 370 tonnes of mangoes. The mangoes arriving here are of better quality as compared to last year. We are processing alphonso, keshar and other varieties. We may touch 450 metric tonnes by the end of the mango season." 

The official added, "A customer base has developed in the US during the past few years. The export, which stood at 95 tonnes in 2010, has reached 500 tonnes so far." 

During the 2015 season, the capacity of the Lasalgaon centre was increased from 200 kilo curies (kCi) to 290 kCi of cobalt. Earlier, the capacity was 300 kCi and it was reduced to 200 kCi due to operations. 

An official from Vashi Irradiation centre of MSAMB, said, "This is the first year of our irradiation centre at Vashi. We started operation in April 2016. We have processed 130 metric tonnes of mangoes so far and may process around 200-250 metric tonnes by the end of the season." 

Tell us more about our food; Ottawa Citizen Editorial Board; (June 8, 2016):
  A recent survey by The Canadian Centre for Food Integrity (funded by the food industry) finds that millennials are less impressed with the food system than are other age groups. Their trust in farmers, food companies, retailers and government, while not abysmal, is still lower than the comfort level the rest of us feel with how our food is supplied.

This generational mistrust comes even as technology continues to change the industry - mostly, we believe, for the better. But it also dovetails with the struggles of many Canadians, not just youthful consumers, with higher food prices. A study by the University of Guelph's Food Institute and Dalhousie University suggests that poorer households, less-educated Canadians and younger adults have been hit in tangible ways by the past year's higher fruit and vegetable prices.

Further, "because of climate change, we are expecting vegetable and fruit prices to become much more volatile than they have ever been in recent decades," warns Sylvain Charlebois, the dean of the faculty of  management at Dalhousie University.

So is the future of food bleak? No, but Canada's food establishment needs to explain what is, in fact, going right. After all, its own survey found a worrisome 93 per cent of Canadians saying they knew "little or nothing" about farming.

One thing about to go right, in our view, is Canada's expansion of food irradiation, already used for several common edibles and now about to be OK'd for beef. Health Canada this month will publish new rules on the irradiation of fresh and frozen raw ground beef, more than a decade after first proposing it. Meat irradiation, notes Charlebois, is already used in more than 55 countries including the United States. "Research on the use of food irradiation has taken place for over 40 years and results are as conclusive as they can get."

The second bit of good news is federal approval of genetically modified salmon for sale in Canada. The majority of food sold here already contains some elements of genetic modification, but the fish known as the AquaAdvantage salmon is the first GM animal approved for the dinner plate.

The technology in both cases has been well-tested; over time it may perhaps make food cheaper, or at least help keep prices from rising quite so fast. Still, consumers aren't always sure the food industry is moving in the right direction; more transparency is needed.

They want to know which food is GM, which is not; which is irradiated, which is not - just as they want to know what is "organic," or how much salt products contain. Clear labelling should follow new technology. Then the market - including those millennials - can decide.
 Link to article ...

Radura 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