Published by Ronald F. Eustice and sponsored  by GRAY*STAR Inc.
November 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. 
Bananas can be boring! When I was growing up on a farm in Southern Minnesota, the choices at the produce section of our local grocery store were limited. We had citrus from California, cherries from Michigan, blueberries from Wisconsin and the occasional Georgia peach. The most "exotic"
fruit were Central American bananas. Times have changed dramatically.

A few days ago, a national produce manager told me that one of the larger markets  for Mexican guavas is the state of Maine. Culinary preferences in the US and elsewhere have changed. Consumers want lychees, mangoes, rambutan, guavas and a multitude of other fruits that most people had never heard of a few short years ago. Most of these new "exotic" fruits are entering the US because irradiation has made it possible. In fact, irradiation is mandatory on many items. The amount of imported fruit  has grown exponentially and that growth is on a spiral that a few years ago was unimaginable. Thanks to phytosanitary irradiation, it's not the same old bananas any more. 
Featured Article: 7th Annual Phytosanitary Irradiation forum
Make plans today to attend the Seventh Annual Chapman University Phytosanitary Irradiation Form in Orange, California. The dates are March 21-22, 2017.

The forum is organized by Chapman University in cooperation with the USDA and the Joint programme of the FAO/IAEA. The objective of the Phytosanitary Irradiation Forum is to increase understanding and use of irradiation as a phytosanitary treatment to enhance global trade and prevent invasive pests.

This conference is the only international forum devoted entirely to food irradiation and it is also the premier food irradiation forum in the world. In 2016, about 120 attendees from about 30 countries attended the conference. This is a "must attend" event for everyone involved in irradiation of food. Plan to be there. You will be glad you attended. 
Contact Information
Robyne Kelly
MYTH of the MONTH: "Gamma rays are naughty and X-Rays are nice." By Russell Stein
"Gamma rays are naughty and x-rays are nice."

This statement is pure prejudice. Both cobalt-60 and X-ray accelerators produce ionizing photons (radiation) that are indistinguishable from one another and have the exact same effect on the material being irradiated.

Cobalt-59 is a metal that is mined from various places around the world.  After smelting, it is cast into small slugs or wafers, nickel plated, and placed in a nuclear reactor.  Because cobalt-59 really likes to absorb neutrons, it is used in the control rods of various nuclear reactors.  When an atom of cobalt-59 eats a neutron, it becomes cobalt-60.  After many months of critical service to the reactor, the cobalt is removed, doubly encapsulated, and serves a new and useful function as a source of gamma rays instead of becoming nuclear waste.
Cobalt-60 suffers from an identity crisis as it really wants to be nickel-60 (naturally abundant nickel).  After 5.27 years, half of the cobalt-60 atoms in the world will have transformed into nickel-60 ("half-life").  When each atom changes identity ("decays"), they release specific energy in the form of one electron and two photons.  Once transformed, they exist, happily ever after, as (non-radioactive) nickel-60.  Cobalt-60 and Nickel-60 are physically very similar to each other.  They are both very clean metals and by using your senses, you would not be able to distinguish between stable nickel-60 and unstable cobalt-60 atoms.  The two photons that are released are referred to as "gamma rays".  One photon has an energy of 1.17 million electron volts (MeV); the other 1.33 MeV.
X-rays start their journey as very low energy electrons stripped off of atoms.  For food irradiation in most of the world, these electrons can be physically energized to a typical energy of 5 MeV by using an electromagnetic gun (e-beam accelerator).  The accelerated electrons are aimed at a plate of high density metal.  The impact of the very fast moving electrons hitting the plate of high density metal releases three forms of energy.  Around 90% of the energy is wasted as heat.  A good chunk of the energy released is in the form of electrons that have been slowed down, but not stopped, by the impact.  A relatively small percentage of the impact energy is converted to photons.  These photons are referred to as "x-rays".  They have a smear of energies that range from virtually zero electron volts to energies as high as that of the initial electrons (in this example 5 MeV).  After some filtering, most of the photons are in the same energy range as those produced by the cobalt-60.
In effect, gamma photons start as parts of the nucleus of cobalt atoms and x-ray photons start as the electrons of atoms of metal.  Typically cobalt-60 is created in commercial nuclear power reactors as the reactor generates electricity.  X-rays are produced by using large amounts of electricity via an e-beam accelerator.  Hopefully the electricity used to create the x-ray photons was produced in a reactor that was also creating the cobalt-60 used as a source of gamma photons....all is clean.  Or, perhaps the electricity used to produce the x-rays comes from a less clean form of energy?  Would those be naughty x-ray photons?
All photons are not created equal.  But, they are equal once created.  A gamma ray photon and an x-ray photon of the same energy are, in every way, identical.  The only difference is the story of their origin.  From that perspective, gamma rays are no naughtier than their doppelganger x-rays.
If a food being irradiated had eyes that could see the radiation, gamma and x-ray photons would be the same color.

 Link to article ...

Russell Stein 
PrimePro® now used for irradiation process on food from Peru; Fresh Plaza (November 2, 2016): 
Irradiated Peruvian pomegranates will be packaged in PrimePro carton containers with special venting.
Chantler Packaging Inc., a leader in engineered food packaging solutions, announced that for the first time, PrimePro® Shelf Life Extension packaging is being used for food going through irradiation, from Peru. 

The Canadian packaging firm developed the new format when Gateway America identified the need for ethylene absorbing film for irradiation. They procured PrimePro® carton liners, with specialized venting, for mangoes being shipped from the Dominican Republic as well as pomegranates and figs from Peru to the United States.

Chantler Packaging Inc. has worked to engineer new formats for PrimePro® technology to accommodate a wide variety of commodities and shipping conditions. 

"We are thrilled with the success of the shipments using PrimePro® irradiation bags," says Ryan Hollingsworth, VP of Operations at Gateway America.  "It has provided huge benefits for our customers in various countries wanting to reach the North American market, allowing them to export efficiently with no hassle". 

The PrimePro® irradiation bags have a specialized micro-perforation pattern which allow for venting but also for effective sealing. "The micro-perfs are appropriately placed so it doesn't interfere with the sealing", Hollingsworth explains. "PrimePro® bags don't tear from the vent holes so the packing is faster".  

When approached with the scenario, Chantler Packaging Inc. reviewed the FDA's food irradiation regulations for packaging and ensured that PrimePro® followed all standards described in CFR 179.45. Additionally, the material is OMRI Listed, allowing it to be used in organic food processing and handling according to USDA. 

"We take food safety very seriously here for all our products," explains Mohsin Masud, Senior Account Executive at Chantler Packaging Inc.  "Even our facilities go through rigorous processes to make sure everything that comes out of our plant is top quality". 

As Chantler Packaging Inc. prepares for upcoming international trade shows this fall, the firm is excited to discuss helping more companies by combining shelf-life extension with irradiation. "We feel these vented carton liners can make significant improvements for our friends in other countries looking to ship overseas," suggests Masud.

Today, PrimePro® shelf life extension technology continues to be used by growers, shippers, and distributers, internationally, as a convenient solution for ethylene absorbing packaging. It is available in a variety of formats, including pallet covers, sheets, bags, and rollstock and does not require sealing or gassing.

PrimePro® irradiation bag information:
Mohsin Masud
Sales Executive
Chantler Packaging Inc.
Tel: 905-274-2654 x 236
Chinese investors back NSW cherry growers' export hopes. ABC Rural ( October 30, 2016): 
Irradiated cherries from Australia will soon reach China.
Cherries from mainland Australian growers are only allowed into China by a slow sea journey with the fruit subjected to cold treatment of one degree, to wipe out pests.

The industry is aiming to show NSW is free of the pest Queensland fruit fly during the cherry growing season.
But in the short term growers and investors hope an export trial with NSW irradiated cherries to Indonesia will convince China.

Co-founder Wise Cap Funds Management, Kobe He, believes there is a bright future for the NSW and Victorian cherry industry.
"If we can use the irradiation [pilot] to prove to the Chinese government that using this technology gets rid of the flies, there are certainly opportunities to start talking to the Chinese government to see what we can do," said Mr He, whose clients include Chinese and other Asian investors.
Cherry season fruit fly free
In the long run NSW growers hope a fruit fly trapping program will show the region is free of the endemic pest during the cherry season.

Department of Primary Industries plant bio-security officer Lloyd Kingham said there was already a large body of evidence to show Queensland fruit flies did not breed or lay until the end of the southern NSW cherry harvest.

"What we've done is put out a whole heap of Queensland fruit fly traps on 17 different cherry businesses across southern NSW to prove the theory," Mr Kingham said.

Growers hope the data will convince quarantine officials to lift trade domestic restrictions that would pave the way for international negotiations.
At least three years of data would be needed from the traps on orchards in Orange, Young and Batlow, Mr Kingham said.
"Once we gather the evidence we have to provide a compelling story to sensitive markets that we've proven that low levels of fruit fly aren't infesting the fruit before they are harvested," the DPI's Lloyd Kingham said.
"If we can gather the evidence and convince domestic markets it clears the way for the Australian government to develop up a compelling protocol that they can negotiate with those international markets."

In the meantime cherry growers are pinning their hopes on establishing an irradiation export protocol with China.

Irradiation export pilot project
According to Food Standards Australia and New Zealand 50 countries allow the technology which uses ionising radiation to kill insects, moulds and bacteria.
Australia currently exports irradiation treated grapes, mangoes and tomatoes.

As part of the federally-funded export program the DPI is running a pilot export program sending irradiated cherries to Indonesia.

But China still has to be convinced.
Fay Haynes from the DPI's international engagement unit said the name the process was given around 1903 led consumers to misunderstand the technology.

"Unfortunately when they chose that word they didn't really think of the implication that word would have over time," Ms Haynes said. "It is just like using a microwave."

Ms Haynes said current research showed irradiation had no detrimental affect on nutritional quality.

Chinese investor confidence
In what could be seen as a vote of confidence, current restrictions have not dampened Chinese investor enthusiasm for the NSW cherry industry. Since the signing of the Free Trade Agreement with China in June last year, at least three suppliers from the NSW central west have sold to Chinese families.

At a recent cherry growers conference a group of Chinese investors said the market for NSW and Victorian cherries was huge, if they could be freighted within 72 hours of picking.

Mr He said would like to expand the Australian cherry industry to match the output of global competitor Chile. "If our major competitor can produce 20 to 30 times the quantity, why can't we do the same thing, that is our first question," he said.

His company is setting up a committee to work with the cherry industry on a path forward. "Because there are certain challenges and risks that's why there are opportunities," he said. "We need to set up the conversation so the right people can be on the table and start talking to each other."

Link to article ...
Rosatom Unit, Indian Agricultural Association in deal for irradiation venture; EcoBusiness (October 22, 2016): 
The United Innovation Corporation (UIC), a subsidiary of Rostaom State Atomic Energy Corporation, and the Indian Agricultural Association Hindustan Agro Co-op Limted today said they have agreed to cooperate in the development of a network of integrated infrastructure irradiation centers.

The project contemplates stepwise establishment and development of the network of integrated infrastructure irradiation centers in India managed by a Russian-Indian joint venture.

"Radiation treatment of food products is one of various applications of state-of-the-art radiation technologies offered by ROSATOM to its foreign partners. The use of this technology will make it possible to reduce the loss of onions in India, which currently go bad because of germination and inadequate storage, by 42,000 tons per year on average, as well as to reduce grain losses from 15 per cent to 3-5 per cent per year," said Denis Cherednichenko, CEO of United Innovation Corporation.
According to him, radiation technologies are widespread throughout the world.

"As of today, 22 countries, including the UK, France, Germany, Finland, Japan, China, the Republic of Korea and India, are using about 515 radiation plants based on Russian technologies," he said.

"Russia has a wide experience in this field; it has also been our reliable partner for a long time, and we hope that this project will not only make us closer to the solution of global problems in the sphere of sustainable development, but will also help India to become a center of radiation technologies in the Asian region," added the Chairman Bharat Dhokane Pandurangof Hindustan Agro Co-op Limited .

The first stage includes construction and commissioning of seven radiation treatment centers in India. Within the framework of bilateral cooperation, it is considered acceptable to extend a network of integrated infrastructure irradiation centers in the UAE, the Republic of Mauritius and Malaysia.

Irradiation doses are recommended by the IAEA and the final product is absolutely safe. Irradiation does not reduce the nutritional value of food products and does not change their organoleptic properties and appearance.
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