Published by Ronald F. Eustice and sponsored  by GRAY*STAR Inc.
March 2017
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 safety is a top priority for the seafood industry. In 2014, the FDA approved irradiation of seafood products at the request of the National Fisheries Institute. Irradiation is helping to increase seafood safety but there is an added benefit; substantial extension of shelf life. For many years, irradiation has been safely and widely used in the spices, fruits, vegetables, meat, poultry, and seafood, including oysters and scallops. Medley, Florida-based Bonamar has begun to use irradiation on crabmeat in their plan to provide the safest and most wholesome seafood products in the market. Congratulations!
Featured Article: Irradiation of Crabmeat; Food safety and Shelf-life extension; February 13, 2017: (Press Release)
L-R: Argenis Contreras, President of Bonamar, Alex Cook, Senior VP at Bonamar and Frank Benso, Gateway America President.
Bonamar Corporation, a leading U.S. seafood company, based in Medley, Florida has partnered with Gateway America, a food safety leader to launch a new product line that will be marketed nationally as ES (Extended Safety) crab meat products. Gateway America, Gulfport, Mississippi, is a Primus Labs Certified Food Safety facility that will be processing Bonamar's crab meat under USFDA supervision. 
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), in 2014, approved irradiation of shellfish to kill harmful pathogens. The decision to approve irradiation of seafood products was at the request of the National Fisheries Institute. FDA conducted a thorough food safety assessment that determined that irradiation poses no adverse health risks and does not destroy nutrients. The rule applies to raw, frozen, cooked, partially cooked, shelled or dried crustaceans. It also covers cooked or ready-to-cook crustaceans processed with spices or small amounts of other food ingredients.
Unlike heat pasteurization, the cold process of irradiating food involves exposing the packaged product to low levels  of radiation for a short time up to the permitted dose of 6.0 kiloGray (kGy). This new use of ionizing radiation will reduce, but not entirely eliminate, the number of pathogenic microorganisms - including Listeria, Vibrio and E. coli - in or on crustaceans. This procedure will create the safest crab meat in the industry, especially for those with severely impaired immune systems.
"Irradiation using the GRAY*STAR Genesis irradiator is a key component of the Bonamar process."
BonamarĀ® has emphasized another important benefit of this process to wholesalers and retailers: substantial extension of crabmeat's shelf life. For many years, irradiation has been used safely and widely in the spice, fruits, vegetable, meat, poultry, and seafood, including oysters and scallops. Bonamar's vision with this new project is to provide the safest and most wholesome seafood products in the market.

MYTH of the MONTH: "E-Beam irradiators are faster than Gamma irradiators." By Russell Stein
Myth:  "E-Beam irradiators are faster than Gamma irradiators."

Reality: This statement is incorrect. Processing speed is based on the designed production throughput for an irradiator independent of whether it is E-Beam or Gamma.
There is a fundamental difference of how the radiation is delivered between e-beam irradiation and gamma irradiation.   E-Beam irradiators expose a relatively small mass of product for a relatively short period of time. In contrast, gamma irradiators expose a relatively large mass of product for a relatively long period of time. Typically, the "dose rate" for electrons is much greater compared to that of gamma but the amount of product exposed during irradiation is much greater in a gamma irradiator than in an e-beam irradiator.

This myth was created by only looking at the "dose rate" aspect of productivity and not at the mass of the product being irradiated. For example, using the same product/dose in an e-beam and gamma irradiator of similar production throughput, one could say that the e-beam irradiator irradiates a product in seconds whereas a gamma irradiator takes minutes. This would support the myth.

What was left out of the preceding example was that the e-beam irradiator was only irradiating a box of product in seconds, whereas the gamma irradiator was irradiating a pallet of product in minutes. This breaks the myth.

The "speed" of an irradiator is really its production throughput whether it is e-beam or gamma. Or, on average, how many pounds an hour the unit can produce. Not how many seconds it takes one box to run through the unit.

Technically, the real production rate of an irradiator (speed) is measured in (dose x mass)/time. For example: kGy-kilograms/hour. Both e-beam and gamma irradiators can be designed for any production rate. Like all processing equipment, the design parameters are defined to meet market enough to meet demand at the appropriate cost. 

Russell Stein 
Also in the News: US authorizes the entry of fresh irradiated Peruvian figs; FreshPlaza (March 1, 2017) :
Irradiated Peruvian figs are now available in US supermarkets.
The United States Department of Agriculture authorized the entry of the first load of fresh Peruvian figs, of the Black Mission variety, to the US, a market that has over 321 million consumers.

{Editor's note: The figs are irradiated at Gateway America, Gulfport, Mississippi using a Genesis irradiator}.

The product will be exported by the Peruvian company Agricola Athos at the request of the US North Bay Produce company . Agricola Athos will send the fruit to its plant in Illinois and directly to distribution warehouses. The fresh figs will be offered in clamshells and bulk packages.

"We are very proud that North Bay is the largest importer of Peruvian figs," said the president of North Bay, Mark Girardin, in a press release.

In August 2016, the US Agricultural Health Inspection Service (APHIS) approved the entry of figs and pomegranates to the United States as long as they are subject to measures to mitigate the spread of plant pests.

The protocols for pest mitigation for Peruvian figs and pomegranates include irradiation, inspections, and a phytosanitary certificate of Peru's national plant protection agency. Source:
Canada offers beef irradiation as another food safety tool; Food Safety News  (February 24, 2017):
Canada's consumers can enjoy irradiated ground beef as a food safety option.
OTTAWA: The government of Canada's announcement of changes to its food and drug regulations to permit irradiation of ground beef was not a surprise. It was a long time coming, though, with industry having requested the change in 1998.

Canada has already approved irradiation to treat potatoes, onions, wheat, flour, spices and seasoning preparations.  The United States has permitted the irradiation of fresh and frozen ground beef since 1999. More than 60 countries permit irradiation of various foods to kill pathogens and/or pests. Health Canada published the new regulations.

Canadian officials said the government views the technology as another tool for use by the beef industry in improving food safety. Irradiation is not intended to replace existing food safety practices for handling, storage and sanitation. It's purpose is to complement those practices.

Irradiation reduces levels of harmful bacteria, such as E, coli, Salmonella and Campylobacter, as well as preventing premature spoilage, and extending shelf life. It does so by exposing food to energy with ionizing radiation.

Health Canada found that ground beef subjected to irradiation retains its nutritional values, taste, texture and appearance. Health Canada found any chemical changes to food due to irradiation as "minor." Such food still has to handled, cooked and stored like any other. Irradiated foods must carry a both a written description and the Radura symbol. If not packaged, Canada requires the information be made available at the point of sale.

According to the North American Meat Institute (NAMI), irradiation "is a safe and simple process that uses energy to destroy harmful bacteria on food products." NAMI says the energy passes through the product, much like microwaves pass through food in a microwave oven. There is no energy or residue left in the product, nor is the product "cooked" in the process.

Canada is permitting the use of irradiation, but not requiring its use. Ionizing radiation from gamma rays, electron beams or X-rays may be used. Food irradiation does not make food radioactive.
Pennsylvania bee keepers to hear irradiation expert  (February 23, 2017):
Irradiation is effective to eliminate American Foul Brood (AFB) in bee hives.
COUDERSPORT, PENNSYLVANIA - The North Central PA Beekeepers group will welcome Mark Antune via Skype at the group's next meeting at 6 p.m. March 15 at the Penn State Extension in Coudersport.

The topic of discussion will be "What you don't know about your packaged bees MITE kill them." All are welcome to attend. Antunes currently maintains about 100 colonies scattered in Bucks, Montgomery and Chester counties.

He is a member of the Montgomery County Beekeepers Association, the Pennsylvania State Beekeepers Association, Eastern Apiculture Society and the PA Queen Breeding Project, and he co-developed the PSBA hive irradiation sterilization program.

For more information, contact Joan Bradley at 814-697-7586 or email 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