Food Irradiation Updates

Published by Ronald F. Eustice on behalf of the Food Irradiation Processing Alliance (FIPA) and the International Irradiation Association (iiA).
April  2013

Food irradiation is a food safety, food preservation or quarantine measure used in more than 50 countries. Irradiation is a process in which food is exposed to a source of ionizing energy. Irradiation provides processors with a further safe, environmentally-friendly alternative to treat foods. For example, processors may irradiate herbs and spices to control sprouting and kill pests in place of chemical treatments. Or they may use irradiation to destroy the unwanted pests that can accompany food when it is traded regionally or imported from other countries.

Decades of research worldwide has shown that irradiation of food is a safe and effective way to kill bacteria in foods, extend its shelf life and reduce insect infestation. Food irradiation has been examined thoroughly by joint committees of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), by the European Community Scientific Committee for Food, the United States Food and Drug Administration, by a United Kingdom House of Lords committee and by thousands of experts worldwide.

Ronald F. Eustice is a food quality & safety assurance consultant based in Minneapolis. He can be reached at: and at 612.202.1016.
National Mango Board drafts food safety road map; Irradiation seen as real opportunity.
Australia approves irradiation of tomatoes and capsicums
US Study: Salsa & Guacomole Pose Salmonella Risk
Canadian Study: Parasites on your plate of pre-washed lettuce
Irradiation Presents a Natural Alternative to Beekeeping Sterilization
Food Recalls on the Rise, But a Solution Exists Utilizing Irradiation Technology
So God made a farmer!
National Mango Board drafts food safety road map; Irradiation seen as real opportunity; (March 13, 2013):
McALLEN, Texas - The National Mango Board, Orlando, Fla., put on the Mango Food Safety Conference on March 6, at the McAllen Convention Center, aiming to provide attendees with information about food safety guidelines and standards for mango growers, shippers and handlers.
The session took place in conjunction with the third annual America Trades Produce conference, sponsored by Mission-based Texas International Produce Association and the Nogales, Ariz.-based Fresh Produce Association of the Americas.

William Watson, executive director of the Orlando, Fla.-based mango board, said the board will use its website to reach the industry with its mango food safety guide, available in English and Spanish.
Some in the industry see irradiation as a viable option for ensuring mangoes are free of foodborne threats. "I think there's a real opportunity for irradiation, not just for mangoes but for fresh produce in general," Watson said. He did caution that more research is needed to determine if or how irradiation affects food quality. The Mango Board plans outreach meetings to share its food safety findings with growers in mango exporting nations such as Mexico, Guatemala, Haiti and Peru, Watson said.

Australia approves irradiation of tomatoes and capsicums; (March 18, 2013)

Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) received an Application from the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) Queensland in association with the New Zealand Fresh Produce Importers Association (NZFPIA) to permit the irradiation of tomatoes and capsicums as a phytosanitary measure. In the past, phytosanitary measures for tomatoes and capsicums have primarily involved the use of the chemicals dimethoate and/or fenthion. However, since the use of dimethoate and fenthion for this purpose has now been restricted, other options such as irradiation need to be considered. FSANZ has reviewed the rationale for the Application and current scientific evidence on both the safety of irradiated tomatoes and capsicums and the effect of irradiation on their nutritional composition. Relevant quarantine agencies in Australia and New Zealand also provided advice on whether irradiation is a valid treatment for quarantine purposes for the disinfestation of tomatoes and capsicums. Permitting the irradiation of tomatoes and capsicums will allow increased domestic and international trade in tomatoes and capsicums as there are rigorous requirements in place for an appropriate and efficacious treatment for fruit fly for quarantine purposes.

The safety assessment concluded that irradiation of tomatoes and capsicums, as proposed, are unlikely to generate significant levels of radiolytic compounds. Furan was not detected following irradiation of tomatoes and capsicums at 5 kGy while 2-alkylcyclobutanones (2-ACBs) are not expected to be of concern because of the low lipid content of tomatoes and capsicums. Available data shows that irradiation at doses of up to 1 kGy does not affect carbohydrate, fat, protein and mineral content of tomatoes and capsicums. Data submitted for tomatoes and capsicum by the Applicant showed no discernible effect on levels of the measured vitamins (vitamins A & C and β-carotene) at doses up to 1 kGy. Read more here... 

US Study: Salsa & Guacomole Pose Food Safety Risk; The Packer: By Andy Nelson (March 11, 2013)  
Fresh salsa and guacamole can pose significant food safety risks, according to a new study. Because they often contain diced raw produce, are often made in large batches and are often poorly refrigerated, fresh salsa and guacamole can be prone to contamination that can cause foodborne illness, according to a study published in the journal Foodborne Pathogens and Disease.
"The safety of salsa and guacamole is increasingly important as these foods gain popularity," according to the study. "Fresh salsa and guacamole require careful preparation and storage."
The study's authors reviewed all reports of food safety outbreaks between 1973 and 2008 involving salsa or guacamole.
They turned up 136 outbreaks in which salsa or guacamole was reported as a possible vehicle. Those outbreaks resulted in 5,658 illnesses.
About 24% of the outbreaks were caused by norovirus and 19% by salmonella. Eighty-four percent of the outbreaks were caused by foods prepared in restaurants or delis. Of those, 19% reported ill workers, and 29% improper storage, as possible causes of the outbreaks. Read more here...
Additional articles...

Canadian Study: Parasites on your plate of pre-washed lettuce; CTV; (March 5, 2013):

OTTAWA: In the first-ever large-scale study of its kind, Canadian researchers have tested Lettuce how clean pre-washed packages of leafy greens really are, and found parasites in dozens of samples purchased in Ontario.
Looking at 544 samples of store-bought, pre-washed salads, researchers from Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada found nearly one-tenth of the samples were contaminated with either cyclospora, cryptosporidium or giardia -- parasites that can cause intestinal illness, such as diarrhea.
"In the present study, a relatively high prevalence of all three parasites was found in packaged, ready-to-eat leafy greens," said the study, published recently in the Journal of Food Protection.
"This, along with the fact that all isolates tested represented species and genotypes commonly reported in humans, suggests that there is a potential for transmission to consumers, particularly since these leafy greens are typically consumed raw."
None of the products that tested positive are believed to have been associated with any reported illness outbreaks.
Brent Dixon, a parasite scientist with Health Canada and one of the report's authors, said the study breaks new ground for scientists studying the North American food supply chain -- and serves as a wake-up call.
"The fact (the parasites) are there at all is of some concern to us," he told CTV News, adding all the samples tested were labelled as pre-washed and, in some cases, triple-washed.
"Consumers that are concerned can do additional washing, but from what we know it does not remove 100 per cent of pathogens from produce."
Keith Warriner, a food scientist with Guelph University, said the study underlines the fact there are food safety risks associated with leafy greens.
"The issue is that the leafy greens are harvested (and) they are washed, but washing doesn't do that much ... What's acquired in the field is usually taken straight onto the plate."
Read more here...

Irradiation Presents a Natural Alternative to Beekeeping Sterilization, Wall Street Journal MarketWatch; (March 14, 2013):  

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA, Mar 14, 2013 (MARKETWIRE via COMTEX) -- Iotron Industries have forged close and committed working relationships with beekeepers across North America to provide a treatment that reduces the need for antibiotics and other interventions in protecting the health of bee populations. Iotron harnesses the power of electricity, a natural source, using electron beam technology. The company has been servicing the apiculture industry for over 12 years, providing the ideal solution for beekeepers that upholds and supports the natural process of honey production and the health of bee populations.
Antibiotics, acid baths and chemical fumigation, sometimes used to manage bacteria and disease in bee hives, leave beekeepers faced with dangerous residue, by-product and environmental damage. As such, beekeepers are becoming less reliant on these methods, favouring the natural benefits of irradiation.

Food Recalls on the Rise, But a Solution Exists Utilizing Irradiation Technology; Marketwired via COMTEX;(April 3, 2013).

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA, April 3, 2013 (Marketwired via COMTEX) -- Despite increased government focus on food standardization (by Health Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency) and advancements in food pathogen detection technologies, the number of food recalls reported each week is on the rise. And while better detection can reduce the incidence of illness resulting from potentially hazardous pathogens, it is time to apply a solution to eliminate the problem altogether.

Current risk mitigation efforts by food producers, distributors and retailers are not curbing the frequency or severity of food borne illnesses. For example, on average, in the United States one out of every six Americans get sick (45 million cases), 128,000 persons are hospitalized and 3000 people die every year as a result of food borne illness. The picture in Canada is no better with an estimated 11 million cases of food borne illness resulting from consumption of Salmonella, Listeria, and E coli pathogen contaminated food. These tragic and unfortunate occurrences highlight the gap in the effectiveness of current detection methods. In addition, the management and financial underpinnings of the food chain become taxed and public trust in government regulators sours.
Widely approved, adopted in 55 countries around the world, and endorsed by an impressive list of regulatory agencies such as the USFDA, US Department of Agriculture, Center of Disease control, United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Health Organization, food irradiation is now gaining traction as a way to diminish potentially hazardous and costly food recalls in Canada.
Read more here... 
So God made a farmer!! By Paul Harvey: 
So God made a farmer!! Thank a farmer today for affordable, nutritious, safe and wholesome food. Watch this video which was shown on US national television during the 2013 Super Bowl on February 3rd, The video is a great testimonial to the heroes of American agriculture.
Watch Dodge truck ad from Super Bowl here....  
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 Principles and Applications
is an excellent source of information about food irradiation. For information go to:
Food Irradiation: Principles & Applications
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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Food Irradiation Questions and Answers
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FIPA is a chapter of the International Irradiation Association