Food Irradiation Updates

Published by Ronald F. Eustice on behalf of the Food Irradiation Processing Alliance (FIPA) and the International Irradiation Association (iiA).
September  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 articles in this Food Irradiation Update clearly point out the value of irradiation as a food safety and phytosanitary tool to ensure the integrity of our food supply and protect agriculture from harmful pests. Food irradiation is an environmentally-friendly, cost-effective and practical solution. In recent months the volume of irradiated food sold commercially in the United States and elsewhere has grown significantly. It's time to increase the use irradiation to make our food supply more secure.
Wegmans Grilled Irradiated Cheddar Burger Video
USDA completes test shipment of South African persimmons
Mexico needs better fruit shipping services, says Cocanmex
Irradiation of food is a safe means for preservation
Massachusetts Closes Waters to Oyster Harvesting After Vibrio Outbreak
Illnesses from tainted shellfish increase
Australian Tomatoes and Capsicum Arrive in New Zealand
Wegmans showcases Irradiated Cheddar Burger in new consumer video; (August 16, 2013)
Wegmans Markets based in Rochester, NY with dozens of stores in the Eastern US, has  null featured irradiated ground beef in their meat case for more than a dozen years. Consumer response has been excellent. Wegmans recently released a YouTube video highlighting Wegmans Grilled Cheddar Burger with Applewood Smoked Bacon and Grilled Sweet Onion & Tomato Salad - Wegmans Executive Chef Russell Ferguson shows you the best way to make a burger for the grill using irradiated ground beef so you can enjoy it cooked to your preference. 


Watch the YouTube video here.... 

USDA completes test shipment of South African persimmons; USDA Announcement; (August, 2013):

GULFPORT, MISSISSIPPI: USDA has just completed the first phytosanitary irradiation of null null an imported commodity in the Southern USA. A test shipment of South African persimmons was successfully irradiated at the Gateway America irradiation facility in Gulfport, Mississippi.

Mexico needs better fruit shipping services, says Cocanmex; Fresh Fruit Portal (August 29, 2013):

Roger Gay, managing director of the Mexico State-based company Cocanmex, has urged the Mexican government to not invest simply in promotions, but also to improve the country's logistics capacity for fruit exporters to avoid disappointing potential clients overseas. Mr. Gay is confident after the opening of a new irradiation plant in the western city of Matehuala, close to major production zones, which he believes will give a huge boost to Cocanmex's efforts to increase its share of the U.S. market. "In my case it's very beneficial because I don't have hot water treatment. I've been shipping mangoes to Canada and Europe for many years and now this opens up huge possibilities in the U.S.

"Hot water treatment to me really kills any kind of flavor. You're dipping the mango at approximately 117°F (47°C) for 90 minutes, so you're practically boiling a mango.

"That was the only way up until irradiation that you could ship mangoes into the US market, whether it was from Mexico, Brazil, Ecuador or Peru - everyone's boiling their mangoes to get into the U.S. and I believe it is very detrimental to the flavor."  Read more here... 


By irradiating food, many food borne pathogens can be safely killed leaving the food largely unaffected.  The effect on the food is a milder version of the effects caused when you cook the food so that the change in nutritional value from the exposure is inconsequential.  The texture can be effected and the nutritional value will be reduced slightly.  When food is cooked, many intermolecular bonds are broken including those of the proteins and vitamins but not to the point of making food unsafe.  Just as cooking food does not make it unsafe due to the molecular changes in proteins and vitamins, the same applies with exposure to large doses of ionizing radiation.  In fact, many foods are considered unsafe unless they are cooked, irradiation of food has a similar effect in its ability to kill bacteria, fungus and can weaken or even break up virus molecules.   Read more here....  

Massachusetts Closes Waters to Oyster Harvesting After Vibrio Outbreak; Food Poisoning Bulletin (September 8, 2013):

Boat image 2

The state of Massachusetts has closed Duxbury, Plymouth, Marshfield, and Kingston Bay Complex to commercial oyster harvesting because of an outbreak of Vibrio parahaemolyticus. This is the first time those waters have been closed, despite a two-year effort of government and industry to implement safeguards against that bacteria.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health is currently investigating an outbreak of more than 40 people sickened by Vibrio this summer. Some of those illnesses have been definitively attributed to cultured oysters from that specific growing area. There is no wild harvest on those waters.

All oysters harvested from this area that are in commerce are being recalled. The closure is in effect from August 30, 2013 until further notice. Read more here... 

Illnesses from tainted shellfish increase - Connecticut Post; (August 16, 2013):  
The number of people sickened by a bacteria found in some shellfish has more than doubled in a week.

A Connecticut state Department of Agriculture official said 32 cases of the illness are either confirmed or under investigation.

Of those, 14 were linked to clams and oysters harvested from beds off Westport and Norwalk, which were shut down earlier this month due to concerns about the bacteria.

"It is an outbreak, at this point," said David Carey, director of the Bureau of Aquaculture.

The state shut down the beds last week and issued a voluntary recall of shellfish harvested there over the last month, due to high levels of the naturally occurring bacteria Vibrio parahaemolyticus. The bacteria, which rapidly multiply in higher temperatures -- such as the heat waves that hit the region in July -- can cause acute gastroenteritis.

Read more here... 
Australian Tomatoes and Capsicum arrive in New Zealand; New Zealand Herald (September 1, 2013):

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND: The New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries null has changed import health standards to allow irradiation treated tomatoes and capsicums. They are treated with gamma rays to kill the Queensland fruit fly.

The tomatoes started arriving in late August and all fresh tomatoes from Australia must be irradiated. Some Asian supermarkets are offering them as an alternative to chemically treated Kiwi tomatoes.  The chemicals that were previously used to treat products (methyl bromide) were banned two years ago and as a result Australian tomatoes and capsicums were prevented from accessing the New Zealand market. Before locally produced products are available again in early October a few hundred tons of tomatoes, that were irradiated at the gamma irradiator of Steritech near Brisbane, will have been received into New Zealand.  

Australian growers have also started using the services of Steritech to gain access to markets in South and Western Australia. Both these States are considered fruit fly free and require treatment by irradiation or methyl bromide before products can enter.

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

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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