Food Irradiation Updates

Published by Ronald F. Eustice and sponsored  by GRAY*STAR Inc.
May 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 
Looking South for Opportunity: From Hawaii to Vietnam, Thailand to Mexico, Australia to India, growers around the world are benefiting from irradiation protocols to ship certain tropical fruits to the USA. Countries in the Caribbean, and Central and South America are beginning to use irradiation for market access. Thus far, South American countries mostly have used now out-dated treatments such as cold temperatures, hot vapor or methyl bromide. That is changing as our South American partners take note of the success that has happened elsewhere. This issue of Food Irradiation Update features progress Mexico has made in guava export and includes success stories in Peru and Ecuador. Other countries in the region are seriously looking into irradiation. Who's next? Irradiation is here and it's not going away. Ahora es el tiempo!

Featured Article:  Mexican guava showing growth; The Packer (April 24, 2018) By Tom Karst
In 2017, Mexico exported almost 9,000 metric tons of guavas to the USA. Irradiation is a mandatory phytosanitary requirement for importation.
Spring Valley Fruits has seen U.S. imports of its Mexican guavas increasing steadily year over year. 

PHARR, TEXAS: Mexican fresh guava sales are trending higher, and that means big business for Pharr, Texas-based Spring Valley Fruits LLC.

The company imports about 60% to 65% of all the Mexican fresh guava coming to the U.S., said Alberto Diaz Lopez, principal with the company.

Last year, the company's sales grew 30%, with 40% gains the year before that, he said. Imports of Mexican guava are available year-round, and the fruit is typically harvested green breaking to yellow color.

He said the company has an integrated operation, marketing fruit from its own orchards and packing shed in Aguascalientes in addition to marketing guava from other growers in Michoacán, Zacatecas, and the state of Mexico.

Fresh guava imports from Mexico were approved in 2008, provided the guavas are treated with a dose of irradiation to remove pest threats.

The company has been in the business of growing guavas for 50 years, since the days that the grandfather of Diaz Lopez ran the farm, he said.

Before fresh guavas were authorized for entry into the U.S., the company exported frozen and dehydrated guavas,  beginning in 1998, he said.
"After guava was approved to be exported fresh, that became our main business," he said.

U.S. Department of Agriculture statistics show Mexico's shipments of fresh guava of more than 8,926 metric tons in 2017, up 18% from 2016 and 52% higher than 2015. Mexico accounted for 93% of U.S. fresh guava imports in 2017, with light volume reported from Thailand and India, according to the USDA.

Translated to 16-pound cartons, U.S. imports of Mexican fresh guava totaled about 1.22 million cartons in 2017.

Many varieties of guava are grown in countries all over the world, and the Mexican guava has different characteristics than varieties grown in Asia. However Diaz Lopez said consumers with Asian, Indian and South American heritage in the U.S. have warmed to the Mexican fruit.

"Even if they don't have their own guava in the U.S., they like to buy Mexican guava," he said. While only one commercial variety of guava is grown in Mexico and exported to the U.S., Diaz Lopez said the company is in the early stages of developing new guava varieties in Mexico and trying to adopt other global varieties to Mexican growing districts.

"Hopefully in the next few years we will have other varieties in the U.S.," he said.

Spring Valley Fruits first entered the U.S. market selling only bulk in 13-pound cartons, but Diaz Lopez said clamshells have become more popular and now account for about 40% of business.

Irradiation of Mexican guavas is mandatory. The Radura symbol is clearly displayed on all packages. Spring Valley guavas are available at Walmart stores nationwide.
Sold at near $1.20 per pound shipping point, the company also ships guava in 16 1-pound cartons. The company has been selling 1-pound clamshells to Walmart stores nationwide, he said.

The USDA's irradiation requirements for the fruit has not been an obstacle to growth, he said, with perhaps only a handful of consumers calling the company each year to inquire about the process.

With its high nutrition values and versatility, Diaz Lopez sees the growth potential for guava will only grow, perhaps following the track of other tropical fruit commodities that were once obscure but are now familiar to many.

"Pineapples, mangoes - all those fruits are becoming more and more popular and in my opinion guava is going to become a popular fruit in the future," he said.

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 
USDA greenlights Ecuador cape gooseberries; The Packer (April 19, 2018), By Tom Karst: 
The USDA has proposed market access for fresh Cape Gooseberries from Ecuador. The fruit shown above is growing in Colombia. Irradiation will be one of the phytosanitary treatments allowed for clearance.

Fresh Ecuadorian cape gooseberries will be allowed U.S. market access under a new proposal from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Comments on the  proposalwill be accepted until June 18, according to the USDA.
Imports of the fruit - also called ground cherries, goldenberry and physalis - will be allowed from Ecuador under what the USDA calls a systems approach.

Those measures by growers, packers, and shippers are to protect against the introduction of the Mediterranean fruit fly in the U.S. The measures require establishing pest-free places of production and the labeling of boxes prior to shipping. The fruit would have to undergo approved cold treatment or irradiation to be cleared for shipment to the U.S.

U.S. import levels for fresh cape gooseberry fruit are not known, according to the USDA, because the fruit is combined in U.S. trade statistics with black, white, and red currants.

In 2015, the U.S. imported approximately 78.7 metric tons of gooseberries and currants valued at about $476,000. 
The U.S. does not produce fresh cape gooseberry fruit commercially, according to the USDA.

Peruvian pomegranate volumes set to rise in 2018; (April 18, 2018): 
The first Peruvian pomegranates of the season entered the US. An irradiation protocol is required to clear Peru pomegranates for entry into the US 
LIMA, PERU: The first Peruvian pomegranates of the season are making their way to the Northern Hemisphere markets following the fall harvests that kicked off in late February.
Industry association ProGranada vice president Miguel Bentín said everything was pointing to a 'calm' season, which he said was running slightly later than last year.
He said concrete production forecasts had not yet been established but predicted volumes could see a sharp increase from last year's 24,000 metric tons (MT).

Fruit quality is also very good this year, he said. The Wonderful varieties represents the majority of the crop.  "Russia and Europe are the most stable markets for Peruvian pomegranates, but there has been some growth in the Middle Eastern market, as well as small growth in Asia," he said.

After the country shipped its first pomegranates to the U.S. last year, Bentín anticipated growth would continue in the market but not at a significant level given the fruit is shipped under an irradiation protocol with only one plant in Mississippi carrying out the treatment.

He said Europe would remain the industry's leading pomegranate market by far.
"The idea is always to have as many destinations as possible, giving us more opportunities to diversify the market," he said.  Bentín added his objectives included raising awareness of the fruit's health benefits and also finding success in the Chinese, Japanese and Korean markets.

U.S.: First Indian mango imports for the season hit East Coast market; FreshFruit Portal (April 20, 2018:
One of India's top mango exporters has successfully sent its first shipment of 2018 to the U.S. market, with expectations for continued growth this year.

Kay Bee Exports CEO Kaushal Khakhar told Fresh Fruit Portal the lot of three metric tons (MT) of mangoes arrived on the US East CoastApril 19 on a British Airways flight.

"We have very eager loyal set of end-customers who anxiously await the arrival of the first mangoes in USA every summer," Khakhar said. "We ship to all major cities of USA but most of our clients are restricted to ethnic Asian customers who know the value-for-money for the air-freighted Indian mangoes. 

"Each mango retails on an average US$2 to US$2.5 a piece in Indian grocery stores."

He said the company also made efforts every year to encourage mainstream exposure and distribution of its mangoes. "We are confident of succeeding in these markets too and when we do, the sky is the limit in terms of volumes," he said.

"When business does mature to that level, volume of mangoes will not be a constraint out of India as India still accounts for more than 40% of world mango production. What could be a barrier is the air-freight capacity out of India."

He said this was the 12th season for Indian mangoes in the U.S. market, although the program had really only picked up steam in the last four or five years with annual growth of 30% or more. Kay Bee has historically accounted for about a third of the volume.

This year his expectations are that the country will see 25% growth to reach 1,500MT, through a pre-clearance program with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) which has approved three irradiation facilities - two near Mumbai and one near Bangalore.

He said this protocol meant target pests were made sterile using a very low 400gy does, which had "no impact on the eating quality of the fruit" but still safeguarded the interests of U.S. agriculture.

Irradiated Indian mangoes have been on US supermarket shelves for 12 seasons. Volumes are rising rapidly and demand is brisk.
"90% of the volumes last year were processed from the facilities near Mumbai. Major varieties shipped are Kesar, Banganpalli and also Alphonso," he said. "Alphonso is widely regarded as the most delicate and best eating. Very few companies have the product know-how and skill to handle this variety over long distances and we take pride in being a leader on that front.

"The weather this year has been good for some varieties but not so for some, for example Kesar which is the most shipped variety. It is challenged for overall production and hence prices are expected to be on the higher side."

India's first consignment of Alphanso mangoes to US began journey; Financial Express (April 20, 2018): 
The first consignment of Alphanso mangoes from the country has left for the US market from Vashi in Mumbai after getting approvals from American quarantine officials.
The US is rapidly becoming a lucrative market for mangoes from India. Irradiation is mandatory for clearance.
The first consignment of Alphanso mangoes from the country has left for the US market from Vashi in Mumbai after getting approvals from American quarantine officials. The first consignment of 16 tonnes has been done through KB Exports, Rambo International and Kaushal Continental. Sunil Pawar, MD, Maharashtra State Agriculture Marketing Board (MSAMB) said around 1,500 tonnes are likely to be exported to the US, 4,000 tonnes to Europe, 20,000 tonnes to UAE and 12,000 tonnes to other nations. This means a total of 37,500 tonnes will be exported from Maharashtra this season, he said. Last year, some 32,500 tonnes were exported from Maharashtra, he said, adding that there is a 15% rise in exports this season.

So far, around 40 tonnes have been exported from the Vashi centre to Russia, England, Italy and France. Primarily Alphanso, Kesar, Bangnapalli variety of mangoes are being exported to overseas countries. With a good mango crop expected this season, alphanso exports from Maharashtra are expected to increase by 15% this year, top officials of MSAMB had said. During the start of the season, the first consignment of some 12,000 kg of alphansoes had left for Italian shores.

South Africa is another new market that is being explored and a delegation was in India last month to explore possible opportunities. Exports to this new market are likely to commence from next season, they said. This year, total production is expected to touch some 4 lakh tonnes. Export to the US has begun and is expected to commence soon to Australia.Japan and Korea are other markets where Indian alphansoes are popular.

MSAMB officials who handle mango export said all facilities have been readied for export. Australia and South Korea are some of the new markets that have opened up to Indian mangoes. India could not export mangoes to Australia until now due to tough phyto-sanitary conditions that require irradiation treatment and inspection prior to the shipment.

Alphonso mangoes from India have been available in the US since 2004. Indian mangoes are irradiated for export to the USA.
A delegation had visited a radiation plant in Maharashtra a couple of years ago and the Australian Biosecurity Import Conditions (Bicon) authority had recently revised its protocol to allow Indian irradiated mango. It has okayed irradiation facility centres at Vashi in Navi Mumbai and Krushak at Lasalgoan (near Nashik).

Around 1,500 tonnes are expected to be exported to the US. 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,the official said. Maharashtra is the largest mango exporting state in the country and accounts for over 80% of the total exports. For Europe, the produce has to go through hot-water treatment. For South Korea, Pest Risk Analysis is mandatory.Mauritius has already granted market access to Indian mangoes subject to phytosanitary certification.
The Marketing Board has established facilities for irradiation, hot water treatment, vapour heat treatment for export to various markets. In Maharashtra, Alphanso, better known as Hapus , starts arriving in markets of Mumbai and Pune by the end of February. Arrivals pick up by mid March and the season usually ends by May.

Europe has been one of the most important markets for the country and some 5,000 tonnes were exported to the European market last season. For Europe, the produce has to go through hot-water treatment. For South Korea, Pest Risk Analysis is mandatory. Mauritius has already granted market access to Indian mangoes subject to phyto-sanitary certification, Switzerland has also lifted the ban on Indian mangoes.
New markets have also opened up in Canada, Malaysia, New Zealand, besides South Korea, North Korea and Australia. APEDA has already issued advisories for registration of mango orchards under Mangonet. US, China, New Zealand, Australia, South Korea, Japan, Malaysia, Mauritius are seeking list of registered orchards maintained by APEDA. In Maharshtra, some 8,500 farmers have registered on MangoNet - a traceability system established by APEDA that has made it mandatory for exporters to pick mangoes for exports only from growers registered on MangoNet. 
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, 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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