Published by Ronald F. Eustice and sponsored  by GRAY*STAR Inc.
March  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 
Retailers are realizing that thanks to irradiation produce from a wide variety of countries that has previously been unavailable because of phytosanitary concerns can now be offered on their shelves. Meat and seafood that has been irradiated for increased safety is becoming more available every day. As a result,  consumers are enjoying more food that has been irradiated than at any time in history.  These are exciting times. Stay tuned!

Featured Article: Food and Fake News; By Ronald F. Eustice 
Fake News Is Not New!
By Ronald F. Eustice
We hear and read much about so-called "Fake News" these days. The term is often used in discussion about politics. But is fake news a new phenomenon and is it unique to politics?

So, what is "fake news"?
Fake News has been described as a type of propaganda that consists of deliberate misinformation or hoaxes spread via traditional news media or online social media. Fake news is written and published with the intent to mislead in order to damage an entity, product or person, and/or gain financially or politically, often using sensationalist, dishonest, or outright fabricated headlines and content to increase readership, online sharing, and Internet revenue. Intentionally misleading and deceptive fake news is different from obvious satire or parody, which is intended to amuse rather than mislead its audience.

"Falsehood flies, and the Truth comes limping after it," Jonathan Swift once wrote. Unfortunately, deliberate and unintentional spreading of falsehoods can have life-or-death consequences, especially in the area of food safety. Too often, misinformation is left unchallenged because there is a reluctance to add intensity to the issue.

Fantastic Falsehoods:
During my career working on behalf of US farmers and food processors, I have found that claims made by anti-technology groups about our food supply are often full of fantastic falsehoods. Anyone with a certain amount of technical savvy can put something up on the internet. Activists with extra time on their hands can stand in front of a business with an anti technology placard. Almost always the critics choose not to be burdened by scientific facts and prefer to rely on half-truths and outright lies spewed out from the headquarters of their special interest group. Some are simply uninformed or misinformed and go along with the crowd.

For centuries there have been those who believed the earth is flat. Those who choose to believe that the earth is flat despite over-whelming scientific evidence to the contrary have every right to do so. In a free society, proponents of the ''Flat Earth Theory'' have a right to their own set of opinions, but those opinions do not alter the fact that the earth is demonstrably and unequivocally spherical. Early explorers faced a multitude of risks, but despite claims that the world was flat, their ships did not drop into oblivion and the new world was discovered.

It is human nature to resist change and to fear the ''unknown''. Critics who believed the earth was flat stifled exploration of the ''new world''. In many ways, anti-technology activists jeopardize human health and global trade by attempting to create fear in the minds of the public when there is nothing to fear.

Zero Risk?
Arguments against constructive change take many forms. Every change has its risks; some real, others imagined.

Those who wish to maintain the status quo and convince others that the risks outweigh the benefits often make impossible demands for a zero-risk society.
Technologies such as chlorination of water, pasteurization of milk, synthetic fertilizers, chemical pesticides, modern medicine, genetically enhanced organisms, immunization, and irradiation, to name a few, all faced and continue to face various levels of opposition.

Most cities use chlorine to purify their water, most parents want their children immunized against dreaded diseases, and very few people would consider drinking unpasteurized (raw) milk because of the known risks. Yet these lifesaving technologies all have their risks as well as their critics.

Chlorine is toxic and immunization can sometimes cause the disease it was intended to prevent. Pasteurized milk tastes different than milk straight from the cow, can be re-contaminated, and will spoil if not refrigerated.

Genetic modification of plants and animals has occurred for milleniums. Corn ( zea mays ) evolved naturally as a direct  result  of the domestication of a Mexican annual teosinte during 10,000 years.  Today's corn has no resemblance to the plant from which it originated. Yet, there is a phobia about so-called GMOs despite the many benefits that are scientifically proven. All plants and animals that are raised for food have been genetically modified, some thousands of years ago and some much more recently. No one has become ill from consumption of food from genetically modified plants or animals, yet despite scientifically-proven benefits there is an anti-GMO craze.
By comparison, the risks of irradiation, if there are any, are ''unknown'' because after years of study, scientists have not found any. Weigh that against the known risks of contracting bacterial illnesses from the consumption of food that harbors unseen pathogens. No one has ever become ill because food was irradiated but plenty of unfortunate individuals have become seriously ill or died because they ate contaminated food that was not irradiated.

Fake News about irradiation is old, very old:
I did an internet search to learn what type of fake news appears on line. I found that nearly all of the cites critical of irradiation have not been updated for twenty to 30 years. During those three decades, hundreds of millions of pounds of irradiated meat, seafood and produce have been consumed in the US and throughout the world. 

No one has become ill from irradiated food, family farms have benefitted from safer food and international markets have been opened because of phytosanitary irradiation. Unfortunately as  Jonathan Swift once wrote, "Falsehood flies, and the Truth comes limping after it."  It's time to quicken our step and tell the truth about this marvelous  technology  called food irradiation. That's why I send Food Irradiation Update to thousands of subscribers and maintain The website is updated regularly with the most recent developments in food irradiation.
Learn the truth about food irradiation at 

Ronald F. Eustice 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 20 years, Eustice has spoken at food safety conferences in more than 30 US states and ten countries regarding consumer acceptance of irradiated food in the marketplace. 
Contact Ronald Eustice at

MYTH of the MONTH: "Irradiated Foods Taste Bad." By Russell Stein
 "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!
Russell Stein 
 Mangoes for Harley-Davidson deal ups Alphonso exports to US; Hindustan Times (March 7, 2018:
All mangoes exported from India to the US must be irradiated. The Bhabha Atomic Research Centre in Mumbai has the capacity to process one tonne of mangoes per hour.
DELHI: An announcement was made by then US president George Bush in 2006 during a visit to New Delhi following which the exports of mangoes to the United States were revived after almost two decades in May 2007.

The export of Alphonso mangoes from India to the United States has seen a substantial rise over the last 10 years, particularly after India allowed the import of Harley-Davidson motorbikes in exchange for the famous Alphonso mangoes, in a swap deal in 2007.

Mango exports to the US have consistently risen since 2007, a senior official from the agricultural and processed food products export development authority (Apeda) said in an interview on Tuesday. "Yes, the Harley Davidson deal (of 2007) seems to be a win-win situation for our farmers. As you can see, there is a sharp increase in mango exports to the US. The US is among the top five countries besides the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Nepal and UK," Apeda's deputy general manager Sudhanshu, who does not use his last name, said.

Sudhanshu said that India exported 615.53 metric tonnes of Alphonso mangoes to the US in 2016-17, from nil in 2007-08. However, this is nowhere close to the 3,000 tonnes that were exported to the UK in the same period. During 2016-17, India exported a total of 50,000 tonnes of mangoes valued at Rs 420.36 crore.
UAE was the highest importer at 28,483 tonnes, followed by Nepal (9.415 tonnes), UK (3,030 tonnes) and Saudi Arabia (2,371 tonnes). 

Exports of mangoes to the United States were revived after almost two decades in May 2007after an announcement was made by the then US president George Bush in 2006 during a visit to New Delhi. In exchange, India reciprocated by allowing imports of the iconic Harley-Davidson motorbikes, provided they complied with Euro-III emission norms.

Prior to 2007, mango exports suffered from US trade barriers because of poor pest control, specifically fruit flies, in the produce.

After the swap deal was struck with the US, export consignments were irradiated at a plant at Lasalgaon, Nashik, which was used to irradiate onions. Two additional irradiation plants were set up at Mumbai and Bengaluru, Sudhanshu said.

Maharashtra agricultural minister Pandurang Phundkar said, "Since Maharashtra is playing a very crucial role in mango exports, we have initiated a number of steps in this regard. We have started an irradiation centre in Mumbai and plan to establish more in the near future."

Sharad Paranjape chairman of Kelshi mango producers association, Ratnagiri, said last year, they had dispatched 95,000 boxes, 12 kg each, to Mumbai for exports. "The irradiation centre in Mumbai has helped us a lot," he said.

All mangoes exported to the US are irradiated at Barc (Bhabha atomic research centre) in Mumbai which has a capacity to handle one tonne per hour, said DM Sabale, additional general manager, Maharashtra state agricultural marketing board (MSAMB).

A silver anniversary marked by change; Feedstuffs; Dr. Richard Raymond (March 5, 2018): 
Ground beef is a safer food today because of many food safety interventions implemented by the beef industry. Irradiation is included on the list.
This article is used with permission of Feedstuffs.
Lives were lost but because of the losses many more lives have subsequently been lived happily and disease free, at least free of diseases spread by contaminated food.conditions.

Twenty-five years is a long time to be married to one person. It is even a longer time to be missing a child at the dinner table.

Twenty-five years ago four children died, many more were permanently injured, and hundreds were sickened by a bacterium most of us had not even heard of before.

Twenty-five years ago, Feb. 20, 2018, Riley Detwiler of Bellingham, Wash., died, the last of the four children who passed away as a result of the 1993 Jack-in-the-Box E. coli O157:H7 outbreak, sometimes referred to by the Center for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) as the Western states outbreak.

Riley had never eaten a hamburger. He was secondarily infected by a classmate in his preschool who had the infection but his parents did not know it yet.

There had been prior outbreaks from these bacteria, but none as extensive as this one which became infamous and made Bill Marler synonymous with foodborne illnesses.

But the past is behind us, and I want to take a few minutes on this unhappy anniversary to make note of the changes that came about in the world of food safety as a result of it. Lives were lost but because of the losses many more lives have subsequently been lived happily and disease free, at least free of diseases spread by contaminated food.

The industry and the regulators made changes, some of which, in no particular order, follow:
1. Probably first and foremost, E. coli O157:H7 was declared an adulterant in ground beef, announced by Mike Taylor, then the acting undersecretary for food safety at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, at an annual meeting of the American Meat Institute, a move which took industry by total surprise. It also assured that the then acting undersecretary for food safety at USDA would never be Senate confirmed.
2.      E. coli O157:H7 was upgraded to reportable disease status at all state health departments.
3.      After losing a court battle to reverse Taylor's decision, the meat industry declared that food safety and public health measures were not proprietary properties.
4.      Hot steam vacuum treatment of carcasses was invented and refined by scientists at the Meat Animal Research Center in Clay Center, Neb., a very small town boasting more PhDs per capita than any other town in the U.S.
5.      Pulse Field Gel Electrophoresis (PFGE) was developed by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and shortly became a part of every state health department laboratory performing testing of human specimens in suspected cases of foodborne illnesses. It is also used to fingerprint bacteria grown from meat and poultry samples. PFGE allows what used to appear to be isolated cases of foodborne illnesses to be developed into clusters, enabling investigators to more quickly isolate the cause of the outbreak and regulators to remove contaminated product from stores and hopefully kitchens.
6.      Food & Drug Administration increased the recommended temperature for cooking ground beef from 140 degrees F to 155 degrees. The current USDA recommendation is to cook to 160 degrees using a digital thermometer.
7.      In 1997, following the Hudson Foods recall, and at the request of Nebraska's Gov. Ben Nelson, the NCBA created BIFSCo (Beef Industry Food Safety Council). BIFSCo coordinates a broad effort to solve pathogen issues, focusing on research prioritization and information dissemination.
8.      Then in 2003, BIFSCo sponsored the first beef safety summit, an annual event since then. At the first summit attendees signed an industry food safety pledge and committed to openly share data and information.
9.      The National Cattlemen's Beef Assn. (NCBA) created a blue ribbon task force headed by old friend Bo Reagan, then with the National Live Stock & Meat Board, a predecessor organization to NCBA where he became vice president of research and knowledge management at NCBA, to fund research into ways to reduce E coli in cattle and slaughterhouses. Bo has since retired from NCBA and now lives just a few miles north of me.
10.  The USDA's Food Safety & Inspection System (FSIS) went from the nearly 100-year-old sniff and poke inspection system to one designed to prevent contamination by invisible pathogens like E. coli O157:H7 called  HACCP, Hazards Analysis & Critical Control Points, that put more of the burden on the individual facilities.
11.  FSIS also initiated testing for E coli O157:H7 in ground beef, later moving the testing to combo bins.
12.  Industry also ramped up its own testing of ground beef in plants and could remove and cook or discard contaminated runs. Reporting of industry positives and presumptive positives has never been mandated, and few know what the exact contamination rate of ground beef is. FSIS only tests product after industry has tested and removed known problematic ground beef.
13.  In spite of criticism from the industry, the FSIS introduced consumer education programs about the potential dangers in ground beef and safe handling and proper cooking instructions. Despite this effort many restaurants' wait staff continue to this day to ask "How do you want your burger cooked" and my wife and daughter answer "medium." AARGH!
14.  Irradiation of ground beef was made routine by Schwann's and Omaha Steaks and offered as an option at Wegman's.
15.  Safe Tables Our Priority, affectionately known as STOP, was formed representing mostly families who had lost a child to an E. coli O157:H7 infection but fighting to "prevent Americans from becoming ill and dying from foodborne illness". The national organization is now known as STOP foodborne illness. Nancy Donley, who lost her only child to an E. coli infection, was the president of STOP when I was with the FSIS at USDA.
16.  FSIS began identifying retail outlets where contaminated meat and poultry were sold in 2008 to help consumers be more aware if they had eaten contaminated product or still had it in their refrigerator or freezer. 
17.  Recently, FSIS has begun attempting to trace back to the source when a further downstream processor has a ground beef sample test positive for E. coli O157:H7
18.  In recent years, FSIS has added six other non-O157 STECs to the list of adulterants.
19.  Some packers now use a phage spray on cattle in holding pens, others use hide washes before the knock box to reduce fecal contamination.
20.  E. coli vaccines have been developed and gained FDA approval, but are in limited use because of the added cost.

I am certain I have left out a few critical changes, as most were made well before my attention turned from delivering babies to food safety.
Comments from Ronald F. Eustice: 
Thanks for including irradiation in this discussion. Schwan's, Omaha Steaks, Wegmans and others continue to market irradiated ground beef with considerable success. Irradiation, used in combination with other food safety tools continues to make ground beef one of the safest foods on the dinner table. Irradiation is doing for ground beef and some types of seafood (oysters, crab meat, and other crustaceans) what pasteurization did for milk decades ago. Today, irradiation is becoming routinely used to eliminate insect pests in imported produce. You can find significant amounts of irradiated produce at major retailers including WalMart and others.

 FAO/IAEA YouTube Videos Available; Carl Blackburn (FAO/IAEA)
The Joint FAO/IAEA Division in collaboration with participants of  Technical Cooperation Project in the Asia and Pacific Region has produced a very useful explanatory cartoon (2 mins and 59 seconds) on food irradiation. It was produced with the objective being to consider food irradiation as a means of helping meet food security needs - especially with changing climates.
It is on YouTube and we encourage all to use and share, click on this link:
This new "infographic" is in addition to the successful one we published in 2015, still available here: 
These resources are available for people to use in their presentations and on their websites - so Food Irradiation Update readers are encouraged to watch, link and use.  (The "infographic" is available in the six official languages of the UN: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Spanish and Russian).

For more information contact:
Carl Blackburn   | Food Irradiation Specialist |
Food and Environmental Protection Section | Joint FAO / IAEA Division of Nuclear Techniques in Food and Agriculture |  Department of Nuclear Sciences and Applications |
International Atomic Energy Agency  | Vienna International Centre, PO Box 100, 1400 Vienna, Austria   |
Email: | T: (+43 1) 2600-21639 | F: (+43 1 ) 2600-26007
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The Eighth Annual Chapman Phytosanitary Irradiation Forum moves to a new venue for 2018!
Hotel Centara Grand at Central Plaza Ladprao, Bangkok, Thailand
June 13-15, 2018
Organized in cooperation with the USDA, the International Irradiation Association (iia), the Thailand Institute of Nuclear Technology (TINT) and the Joint programme of the FAO/IAEA, the objective of this Phytosanitary Irradiation forum is to increase understanding of irradiation as a phytosanitary treatment to enhance global trade, to prevent invasive pests and to foster dialogue.

Registration will be available at
Dr. Anuradha Prakash,
Yves Henon,
Carl Blackburn,

2018 Hands-on Electron Beam Technology Workshop
To address the needs of the medical device, pharmaceutical, food, phytosanitary, agribusiness, cosmetic, and environmental industries, the National Center for Electron Beam Research will be organizing a new format,  BYOP (Bring Your Own Product) Hands-on Workshop in eBeam Technologies April 16-20th, 2018 on the Texas A&M University Campus.   

Session 1:  April 16, 1 PM - April 18 12 noon
  • Will focus on the use of eBeam technology in the medical device, pharmaceutical and environmental industries.
Session 2:  April 18, 1 PM - April 20, 12 noon
  • Will focus on the use of the eBeam technology for food, pet food, and phytosanitary applications.  
Attendees are strongly encouraged to bring their products (medical device/pet food/food/fresh produce) so that they could be included in the hands-on exercises. The focus of the hands-on exercises will be to provide one-of-a- kind in-depth hands on experience in performing eBeam dosing experiments, dose-mapping experiments and eBeam dose tolerance exposures.   You may attend either Session 1 or Session 2 or both. 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