Food Irradiation Updates

Published by Ronald F. Eustice on behalf of the Food Irradiation Processing Alliance (FIPA) and the International Irradiation Association (iiA).
June  2013
Food Irradiation Update is published monthly by Ronald F. Eustice who is a food quality & safety assurance consultant based in Minneapolis. He can be reached at: and at 612.202.1016.
Quotable Quotes:
"Irradiation is a vital tool to protect New Zealand's vulnerable horticulture industry from fruit fly and we support its use on at-risk produce from Australia," Alasdair MacLeod, chair of Tomatoes New Zealand. 
"Irradiated fruit can pave the way for tree-ripened mangoes in the U.S. market." 
Roger Gay, chief executive officer, Cocanmex, Cuautitlan Izcalli, Mexico. 
"With irradiation technology, litchi can be preserved up to 48 days. Normally, the small luscious fruits are destroyed in three days. Similarly, Jardalu mango from the Bhagalpur area (of India) can be preserved for 10 to 15 days against the usual three to four days. 
M.L. Chaudhary, Vice-chancellor, Bihar Agriculture University, Sabour, India
Three new irradiation processing facilities approved and soon to be in business
New Zealand approves import of irradiated tomatoes and capsicum from Australia
New Zealand:...Irradiated Tomato Labeling Concerns "heard"
Irradiated Tomatoes from Australia to New Zealand by June
Dangers of Mechanically Tenderized Beef; Consumer Reports
Three new irradiation processing facilities approved and soon to be in business; Meat and; By Bryan Salvage (May 1, 2013):
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Take heart, North American proponents of food irradiation. Canadian Cattlemen magazine recently reported that a long-languishing petition in Canada to allow ionizing irradiation as one way to control bacteria and other pathogens in Canadian beef may soon get a badly needed jump-start. The article relays the Canadian Cattlemen's Association said it plans to soon turn in paperwork that would reactivate the process of seeking beef irradiation approval - and this is being done at the request of Health Canada.
First filing its petition for that approval in 1998, the CCA said it has undertaken many efforts during the last 15 years toward getting approval of regulatory amendments needed to finally allow beef irradiation. In 2003, Health Canada completed its scientific review of beef irradiation and submitted a positive recommendation on the proposal. However, the final steps of publishing the proposed new regulation have yet to be completed, the CCA charges.
Approving beef irradiation has been a long time coming. A regulatory proposal worked its way to the Canada Gazette in November 2002 and as a result a Canadian code of practice for food irradiation was developed.  
Canada currently allows irradiating potatoes and onions to inhibit sprouting during storage; wheat, flour and whole wheat flour for insect control in stored food; and whole or ground spices and dehydrated seasonings to reduce microbial load, the CC article relayed. Health Canada has also finished reviews of proposals to use irradiation on poultry, shrimp, prawns and mangoes. Meanwhile, the United States has approved irradiation of red meat, poultry plus fresh fruits and vegetables. Read more here...

New Zealand approves import of irradiated tomatoes and capsicum from Australia; (May 25, 2013):

NEW ZEALAND: Irradiated tomatoes and capsicums imported from Australia could be on New Zealand supermarket shelves within weeks.

New Zealand Food Safety Minister Nikki Kaye and her Australian counterparts have decided not to review the decision that approved irradiation for the produce. 

Her comments follow a majority decision by herself and Australian food safety officials to allow the irradiation of tomatoes and capsicum.

Food that has been irradiated has been subjected to ionising radiation which kills off bacteria and pests and can also delay the ripening process.

Ms Kaye says the process involves rigorous analysis of the scientific evidence, and it's her view that irradiated food is safe to eat. Before the first irradiated tomatoes and capsicums arrive, New Zealand will have to alter an import health standard - the minister says that will be in June or July.

New Zealand already imports irradiated mangoes and lychees. Read more here... 

New Zealand:  Irradiated Tomato Labeling Concerns "heard"; Fresh Plaza,(May 24, 2013):

Tomatoes New Zealand says the decision not to enforce compulsory individual labelling of irradiated Australian tomatoes and capsicums is disappointing, but the industry organisation believes their concerns have been heard.
In a letter to Tomatoes New Zealand received this week, the Minister for Food Safety Nikki Kaye said she understood Tomatoes New Zealand's concerns with ensuring irradiated produce was clearly labelled and wanted to work with the organisation to ensure labelling requirements are enforced.
Alasdair MacLeod, Chair of Tomatoes New Zealand, says; "We called for Minister Kaye to put in place tougher labelling requirements for irradiated tomatoes.
"While she has not agreed to individual labelling of loose irradiated tomatoes or capsicums, she has said she will ensure all irradiated produce is clearly labelled at point-of-sale, which was one of our major concerns. 

Irradiated Tomatoes from Australia to New Zealand by June; SunLive; (May 25, 2013):

NEW ZEALAND: From June this year, irradiated Australian tomatoes and capsicums could be available in New Zealand retail outlets, cafes and restaurants. The Minister for Food Safety is due to make her decision on the Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) proposal this month.

The Australian state of Queensland irradiates fresh produce, before it is exported, to prevent any bacteria or pests such as the Queensland Fruit Fly from leaving Australia's shores. The irradiation process uses electrical beams or X-rays, or gamma rays, which are generated from the radioactive source Cobalt 60. These processes are most likely to be used on tomatoes and capsicums coming to New Zealand from June.

"Irradiation is a vital tool to protect New Zealand's vulnerable horticulture industry from fruit fly and we support its use on at-risk produce from Australia," says Alasdair MacLeod, chair of Tomatoes New Zealand.
Read more here... 

Dangers of Mechanically Tenderized Beef; Consumer Reports via WGRZ-TV; (May 1, 2013):  

Before you fire up the grill for some great summer meals, Consumer Reports has a caution. The beef you buy may have been tenderized by machines - and that process can introduce potentially deadly bacteria into your food.
A sizzling steak on the grill looks tempting - but it may have been run through a machine to make it tender. The trouble is that sharp blades or needles can drive dangerous bacteria - including E. coli - from the surface of the meat into the center, where they're harder to kill.
That can increase health risks, especially for people who eat their meat rare or medium rare.
"The Centers for Disease Control has reports of four deaths and 174 illnesses in the past ten years caused by mechanically tenderized beef that was contaminated with harmful E. coli bacteria," said Andrea Rock of Consumer Reports.
You can't tell by looking if the beef has been run through a machine. The meat on the left was mechanically tenderized. The piece on the right was not. Read more 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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