Food Irradiation


The US has one of the most developed commercial food irradiation programs in the world.

Food products irradiated in 2010 included 80,000 tons of spices, 15,000 tons of fruits and vegetables, as well as 8,000 tons of meat and poultry: thus the total was 103,000 tons. Compared with 2005, the highest growth was observed in the amount of fruits and vegetables irradiated for disinfestation (increased by 11,000 tons), while the quantities of other irradiated foods remained about the same. Meanwhile, the irradiation of spices for disinfection is the main food irradiation practice in the US. Exports of irradiated fruits from Asia to the US were initiated by India in 2007 with Thailand and Vietnam following suit. The quantity of irradiated mango in India reached a peak of 275 tons in 2008, but gradually decreased in recent years. Thailand started to export irradiated fruits (longan and mango) to the US in 2007 and four kinds of irradiated fruit were exported in 2010 (mangosteen — 330 tons; longan — 595 tons; litchi — 18 tons; and rambutan 8 tons). Vietnam started shipping irradiated dragon fruit to the US in 2008 and the shipping of rambutan was started in 2011. These countries expect to expand their range of items and quantity to phytosanitary irradiation, while other countries such as Malaysia, Pakistan and the Philippines are also expected to export irradiated fruits to the US in the future.

Mexico is another major supplier of irradiated food, which started shipment of guava to the US in 2008. Total exports were 257 tons in 2008 and 3,521 tons in 2009. In 2010, these exports of irradiated food from Mexico to the US increased to 10,318 tons and comprised guava (9,121 tons) as well as sweet lime (600 tons), mango (239 tons), grapefruit (101 tons) and pepper (257 tons). Mexico is now the largest exporter of irradiated agricultural products to the US primarily because of the proximity of the two countries and the land border between them.

Australia became the first country to use the phytosanitary irradiation for international quarantine control purposes in 2004. Exports from Australia to New Zealand have steadily increased, and 493 tons of irradiated fruits (mango, 460 tons; litchi, 33 tons) were shipped in 2010. In 2015, Australia began shipping irradiated mangoes to the US. Consumer acceptance has been excellent.


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Food Irradiation in the US

GateWay America

Foods Approved for Irradiation in the United States

Foods that require irradiation for import into the United States

Typical annual amounts of irradiated foods sold at retail in the USA (2010-11)
Ground Beef

Meat & Poultry

Oysters & Seafood

Fruits & Vegetables









Food Irradiation Questions and Answers
Food Irradiation Update

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