Food Irradiation Updates

Published by Ronald F. Eustice on behalf of the Food Irradiation Processing Alliance (FIPA) and the International Irradiation Association (iiA).
November  2013
Food Irradiation Update is published monthly by Ronald F. Eustice, a food quality & safety assurance consultant based in Minneapolis and Tucson. He can be reached at: and at 612.202.1016.
The interest in food irradiation continues to grow worldwide. Irradiation is an environmentally-friendly process that makes our food safer, extends shelf-life and protects agriculture from harmful pests.  In recent months the volume of irradiated food sold commercially in the United States and elsewhere has grown significantly. Increasingly irradiation is being used to reduce vibrio vulnicus in shell fish to non-detectable levels. Phytosanitary irradiation has opened up new markets worldwide. Additional facilities are being built for food safety, phytosanitary purposed and shelf-life extension.
Bhaba Atomic Research Centre urges irradiation for increasing shelf life of agro products
F.D.A. calls spice safety into question.
Law firm considers class action against Foster Farms
Shellfish Toxin Spreading to Eastern U.S.
India irradiation faciity to open this month
India continues to move forward with irradiation
FDA says imported spices carry salmonella
Bhaba Atomic Research Centre urges irradiation increase shelf life of agricultural products; (November 6, 2013)

MADURAI, INDIA: Can flowering of a jasmine be delayed for a few hours so that Mango when a buyer in a European nation opens a carton from Madurai, he could get farm fresh flowers with its renowned fragrance intact?

Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) says yes. "If the buds are irradiated, the flowering process can be delayed for up to six hours," says A. K. Sharma, head, food technology division, BARC. If one goes by the words of Sharma, irradiation technology would go a long way in increasing the export of Madurai malli, with technology enabled increase in shelf life. Not just the jasmine, sprouting in onion and potato, which are key factors that reduce shelf life of these vegetables, could be contained with radiation technology. Read more here...  

F.D.A. calls spice safety into question.The Food and Drug Administration cited the 'poor or inconsistent application of preventive controls' as reasons for concern; Food Business News; (November 1, 2013):

WASHINGTON - A draft risk profile of spices conducted by the Food and Drug Administration and published Oct. 30 indicates pathogen contamination and filth may be a systemic problem throughout the spice supply chain. The risk profile was initiated in response to outbreaks of food-borne illness caused by the consumption of Salmonella-contaminated spices in the United States.

Failures identified in the farm-to-table food safety system potentially leading to adulteration of consumed spices generally arose from poor or inconsistent application of preventive controls, the F.D.A. said. The risk profile study identified 14 spice/seasoning-associated outbreaks worldwide that occurred from 1973 to 2010, resulting in less than 2,000 reported human illnesses and 128 hospitalizations worldwide.

The agency added it is also possible illnesses caused by contaminated spices are underreported, particularly because of challenges related to attribution for minor ingredients in multi-ingredient foods. Read more here... 

Law firm considers class action against Foster Farms; Meat and Poultry (November , 2013):

SAN FRANCISCO - A law firm is investigating a potential class-action lawsuit against Foster Farms after the company's raw poultry products were linked to a Salmonella Heidelberg outbreak that sickened more than 300 people across 20 states.Girard Gibbs LLP, with offices in San Francisco and New York, is searching for the potential plaintiffs for the case. 
 "Consumers expect companies to implement and follow safe practices in handling their products," said Eric Gibbs, an attorney with the firm. "When hundreds of consumers fall ill as a result of eating a company's contaminated food, consumers expect those responsible to address the injuries they may have caused."
SalmonellaForty-two percent of those sickened by the pathogen were hospitalized, an unusually high hospitalization rate for an outbreak, according to the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control. Seven strains of Heidelberg were linked to Foster Farms poultry; and the CDC said the outbreak strains were resistant to antibiotics used to treat such infections. Read more here...
Shellfish Toxin Spreading to Eastern U.S.; Steven Reinberg, HealthDay (October 16, 2013)
The bacteria,Vibrio parahaemolyticus, is the most common cause of seafood-linked stomach illness. Until recently, Pacific shellfish harbored the most virulent strains of Vibrio, but outbreaks on the Atlantic coast of the United States and Spain were reported this year and in 2012.
"This is particularly noteworthy because of the huge distances involved, about 3,000 miles from Pacific to Atlantic seaboards, and 3,000 miles from the Eastern seaboard of the U.S. to Europe," said researcher Craig Baker-Austin, from the Center for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science in Weymouth, England.  

India irradiation faciity to open this month; The Times of India (October 13, 2013):

AHMEDABAD, INDIA: A multipurpose irradiation processing plant set up by Gujarat Agro Industries Corporation Limited (GAICL) is set to begin operations in November. The plant at Bavla will process and irradiate agricultural produce like wheat, rice, pulses, spices, flour and others, making them credible exports in international markets like US and Europe.

In irradiation, the produce is exposed to gamma rays (and other nuclear irradiation) to prevent it sprouting (in potato, onion, garlic) and extend shelf life. Longer shelf life gives exporters time to get the produce farther without losing freshness. Appropriate irradiation doses are also used to produce insects for use in the sterile insect technique of pest control. Irradiation also helps to get rid of vermin or pests.

India continues to move forward with irradiation; Deccan Chronicle (November 9, 2013):

MADURAI, TAMIL NADU, INDIA: Food grain producers and merchants in Tamil Nadu will not have to manually dry their products under sun in the future to free them from micro-organisms bef­ore getting them pac­ked.They can get to see their commodities be­ing irradiated at the state-of-the-art Tamil Nadu Foodgrain Mark­eting Yard in Madurai.

The foodgrain yard, a public-private partnership set up at a cost of Rs 40 crore at Sikk­anadar Ch­avadi on the outskirts of the city in September, is expected to house a radiation facility with the help of Bhabha Atomic Res­earch Ce­ntre (Barc) and Depa­rtment of Ato­mic Energy.

J. Daniel Chellappa, senior scientist with Barc, said, "The yard has expressed its willingness to set up a food irradiation facility for effective food storage and preservation. In that case, it will be the first among the private and public sectors in Tamil Nadu to go for irradiation processing technology which ensures safety in all aspects.

FDA says imported spices carry salmonella; Food Product Design; (September 1, 2013):
WASHINGTON-The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will soon release an analysis of imported spices as a "potent source of salmonella poisoning," according to an article in The New York Times. In a study of more than 20,000 food shipments, FDA found nearly 7 percent of spice lots were contaminated with salmonella, twice the average of all other imported foods. Some 15% of coriander and 12% of oregano and basil shipments were contaminated, with high contamination levels also found in sesame seeds, curry powder and cumin. Four percent of black pepper shipments were contaminated.

Each year, 1.2 million people in the United States become sick from salmonella, one of the most common causes of food-borne illness. More than 23,000 are hospitalized and 450 die.

Mexico and India had the highest share of contaminated spices. Approximately 14% of the samples from Mexico contained salmonella, the study found, a result Mexican officials disputed. India's exports were the second-most contaminated at approximately 9%, but India ships nearly four times the amount of spices to the United States that Mexico does, so its contamination problems are particularly worrisome, officials said. Almost one-fourth of the spices, oils and food colorings used in the United States are imported from India.

FOOD IRRADIATION: A GUIDE FOR CONSUMERS, POLICYMAKERS AND THE MEDIA published by the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) can be downloaded at Food Irradiation Book
IRRADIATED FOODS; published by the American Council on Science & Health Provides Science- provides science-based Information on food irradiation. The booklet can be downloaded at:IRRADIATED FOODS
FOOD IRRADIATION: QUESTIONS & ANSWERS is an excellent source of information on food irradiation.FOOD IRRADIATION: QUESTIONS & ANSWERS
Food Irradiation Update is being sent to you by Ronald F. Eustice on behalf of the Food Irradiation Processing Alliance (FIPA) and the International Irradiation Association (iiA).
Ronald F. Eustice
Minneapolis, MN

Phone: (612) 202-1016
For more information on food irradiation visit
Remember: 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





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