Uruguay moves forward with food irradiation; By Anibal Abreu
In August, the National Irradiation Committee of Uruguay and LATU (Laboratorios Tecnologicos del Uruguay) had the pleasure to receive the presence of Ronald F. Eustice who explained "The situation of irradiation food in United States and American countries", with interesting information about the main items treated in the USA, such as meat products (8,000 metric tons), seafood (increasing fast), fruits and vegetables (20,000 metric tons).
We appreciate Mr. Eustice's presence, and his continuous support of our project and the pleasure of his visit in our country. Seen here; L-R: Margaret Eustice (Ron's wife). Dr. Jorge Servian, Anibal Abreu and Ronald Eustice.
Irradiation in Uruguay; By Anibal Abreu
Since 2002, the Technological Laboratory of Uruguay (LATU) has been working on a national project to introduce the irradiation technology in our country.
As result of this preliminary work we formulated a plan which named "Introduction of Irradiation Technology in Uruguay". Our general objective is to Introduce irradiation technology as multipurpose application in Uruguay as alternative quality, sanitary and phytosanitary measures to stimulate food production and improve the quality of food products marketed to local and foreign markets.
This project has two stages; We are currently in the first stage, the Pilot Stage (Irradiation Project - LATU) that was supported by URU 5027 IAEA "Preparation for the Introduction of Irradiation Technique in Uruguay" and Regional Project RLA 8046 "Controlling Industrial Process Quality and Radiation Dosimetry.")
We also have an Industrial Stage (Private Sector) supported by URU 1006 IAEA and RLA 5066 - IAEA. Next year we will begin the industrial scale with Electron Beam technology.
For the Pilot Stage we have installed Argentinian equipment (EMI 9), which is a small device used to apply irradiation on products in containers. We will use different equipment for the industrial scale because of the private sector involvement. Product will be introduced in a larger machine, in their final packaging ready for export.
The specific objectives of the pilot stage of our Uruguayan project have been entirely achieved. First of all, we have the first pilot scale irradiator in our country. Also we have the regulations for food irradiation (National Bromatological Regulation - Chapter 1, Section 3 - Food Preservation Procedures), incorporated, since 01/12/2008 (Decree 589/008, chapter 31- Food Irradiation), dividing irradiated food in different classes. We have also completed research to determine the technological options and procedures as well as the selection of equipment for the industrial stage.
|We want to emphasize an important objective of our project: tests with food producers and the development of new and interesting applications for emerging markets. We are also strengthening already established opportunities, with different objectives with emphasis on the quality aspects of food irradiation as a phytosanitary measure, the extension of shelf life, the elimination of post-harvest losses and reduction of food borne diseases.
In the framework of our national project, we continue to move forward with support from the IAEA. From the beginning, we have been working within the National Irradiation Committee (NIC).
Within our local project, we have treated food at a semi-commercial scale during 2012 -2013. Products tested included spices, food industry additives and dried herbs. We are also testing other food products to determination dosimetry for commercial evaluation on an industrial scale, for example, citrus fruits, fresh and dried blueberries, industrial meat (trimming), burgers, ready meals, fish, cheese, immunosuppressed dishes, alfajores (sweet biscuit), etc.
With more than 12 million head of cattle, Uruguay ranks 7th in the world for beef exports. Uruguay has only 3 million people and is about the size of North Dakota.
The most interesting items we have identified for application in the industrial are: Alfajores, cacao, spices, medical and surgical equipment, tomato sauce, potatoes, onions, garlics and blueberries, Ready to eat meals, processed vegetables, citrus, hamburgers and cloves.
|We been working on different irradiation projects, the most important are:
1. Impact of the treatment of raw frozen hamburgers produced in Uruguay, with gamma radiation on its hygienic and sensory quality and its shelf life.
2. Effect of the treatment of ionizing radiation on sensory and microbiological shelf life in ¨alfajores¨ covered by simile chocolate.
3. Irradiation of frozen fish (three species Tilapia, Sturgeon and Shark) and study of the evolution of the natural microbial load and sensory attributes on irradiated defrosting fish.
4. Treatment with ionizing energy to control butyric acid fermentation on long ripening cheese.
5. Test on fresh fruits - quarantine measure and minimally processed.
6. Use of Irradiation for hygienic safety of fruits and vegetables intended for export.
7. Study of the prevalence of shigatoxigenic Escherichia coli on raw frozen hamburger of local market and application of non-thermal innovative technologies to its mitigation (irradiation and high pressure).
8. Menu of meat, fresh vegetables and fruits, ready to eat, treated with gamma radiation for immunocompromised patients.
9. Evaluation of the effect of gamma radiation on the content of Fusarium mycotoxins (Deoxynivalenol) in grain and flour wheat.
10. Use of low-dose irradiation to control pathogenic bacteria on meat trimmings for production of patties aiming at provoking minimal changes in quality attributes
In this way, in 2015 start our participation in the regional Project RLA/5/066 IAEA "Commercial Application of Food Irradiation Treatment with Electron Beam and X-Ray in Latin America and the Caribbean".
In August, the NIC had the pleasure to receive the presence of Ronald Eustice who explained "The situation of irradiation food in United States and American countries", with interesting information about the main items treated in the USA, such as meat products (8,000 metric tons), seafood (increasing fast), fruits and vegetables (20,000 metric tons).
We appreciate Mr. Eustice's presence, and his continuous support of our project and the pleasure of his visit in our country.
Irradiation Unit Team - LATU
Aníbal V. Abreu -
Boss Irradiation Unit
President of National Irradiation Committee
Analía Martínez - Dosimetry Officer
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