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Public Awareness:Food Irradiation  
Radiation Technology for Food & Agro Commodities

Frequently Asked Questions on Irradiated Food

What is food irradiation?

Food irradiation is similar to pasteurization. It controls spoilage and eliminates foodborne pathogens. The only difference between food irradiation and pasteurization is the source of the energy used to destroy the microbes. While conventional pasteurization relies on heat, irradiation relies on the energy of ionizing radiation.

In food irradiation, approved foods are exposed to gamma rays, electron beams or x-rays. Irradiation of potatoes, onions, mangoes, meat and other food products is done in government-approved irradiation facilities. In India, Atomic Energy Regulatory Board food irradiation. However, irradiation is not a substitute for good sanitation.

Are irradiated foods safe?

Yes, irradiated foods are safe. Irradiation makes food products safer by reducing the harmful bacteria and parasites.

Food irradiation does not make foods radioactive. Irradiated foods are wholesome and nutritious. Nutrient losses caused by irradiation are less than or about the same as losses caused by cooking and freezing.

Public health agencies worldwide have evaluated the safety of food irradiation over the last fifty years and found it to be safe. In 37 countries more than 40 food products are irradiated. In some European countries, irradiation has been in use for decades. In addition, food irradiation has received official endorsement from the World Health Organization and the International Atomic Energy Agency.

What foods are irradiated?

Wheat and flour to prevent pests, spices, fruits and vegetables, onions and potatoes to prevent sprouting, meat, etc.

How will I know if meat and poultry products are irradiated?

Consumers cannot recognize irradiated food by sight, smell, taste, or feel. Irradiated foods can be recognized by the presence of the international symbol for irradiation on the packaging along with the words "Treated with Radiation," or "Treated by Irradiation."

How should I handle irradiated meat and poultry?

Food irradiation is not a substitute for good sanitation. Irradiated foods can be handled just like any other food.

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