Food Irradiation






In South Korea, total food irradiation comprised only 30 tons of hydrated vegetables. This was a sharp decrease from the 540 tons in 2005 because of the introduction of rules that had mandated the labeling of ingredients for various products. Although the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute has been investigating food irradiation for allergy patients as well as irradiation of foods suitable for use for military personnel and astronauts, it remains unclear whether food irradiation levels in Korea will recover.

The Republic of Korea has one large commercial irradiator (800 kCi) owned by the private sector and used for treating food and pharmaceutical products. The plant has been in operation since 1987 at full capacity. A second irradiation facility has also been built by the private sector for processing food and medical products.

In the Republic of Korea, the Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW) is responsible for authorizing clearances, framing necessary regulations for irradiated foods and for the operation of irradiators. This is done in consultation with the Committee of Food Sanitation Deliberation and the Korean FDA. The Korea Institute of Nuclear Safety under the Ministry of Science and Technology is responsible for the control of food irradiation facilities. The General Standards and Regulation for the irradiation of 13 types of foodstuffs was enforced in September 1987 and amended on 19 May 1995. The Republic of Korea is expected to approve the use of ionizing radiation for red meat and meat products. It is also expected to adopt the Harmonized Regulation for Food Irradiation for Asia and the Pacific authorizing the irradiation of food by classes/groups of foods in 1999.

More than 6000 tons of food products consisting of mushrooms — 470 tons, spices and their products — 2750 tons, dried meat products — 135 tons, dried fish and shellfish products — 800 tons, soybean paste and hot pepper paste powder — 250 tons, starch for condiments 3 — 263 tons, dried vegetables — 1200 tons, yeast and enzyme products — 22 tons, aloe products — 32 tons and ginseng products — 10 tons were irradiated from 1995 to 1998. An average of two thousand metric tons of food products are irradiated per year. The treatment has been applied to items that cannot be processed by heat sterilization or chemical treatment and to those requiring standards for HACCP for export. The Republic of Korea has been using irradiation as an alternative to ethylene oxide to treat raw materials used in finished foods.

Various activities to disseminate information and educate the consumer on the benefits of food irradiation were undertaken. As part of the effort to create a favorable public opinion for the irradiation processing of foods, a national seminar on ‘Acceptance and Trading of Irradiated Foods’ was organized on 30 April 1998 at the Korean University in collaboration with the Korean Society of Food Science & Technology, the Korea Atomic Energy Culture Foundation and the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute (KAERI). The proceedings of the Seminar were published in Korean and English.

Source: IAEA-TECDOC-1219 Consumer acceptance and market development of irradiated food in Asia and the Pacific.




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