Making Food Safer With Radiation Decontamination

Many foods today and throughout history have been naturally preserved. This often includes the process of drying the food or otherwise removing moisture that can lead to fermentation and spoilage.

The most common methods of drying include using the sun and the air, often in combination, or using roasting methods to evaporate the internal water. Unfortunately, these methods don’t remove any bacteria, molds of fungi that may be present in the material or that may become present in the food during processing.

One option is to use radiation decontamination in the form of controlled exposure to gamma rays. This is a very good option for many types of spices and dried foods as it doesn’t include the addition of high heat, which can lead to a decrease in flavor and quality of the dried food.

Irradiation Methods

While there is the option to use a fumigation method for some materials, the use of gamma rays to create radiation decontamination is preferable for many types of foods.

Between the use of ethylene oxide for fumigation and irradiation with gamma rays, organic contaminants such as bacteria, mold and fungus can be removed from the food without altering the flavor or the color of the dried item. Different spices and foods will lend themselves to one process or the other, allowing producers and sterilizing companies to select the best option. Often the level of decontamination of the food will be crucial in selecting which option is optimal for a specific product.

Different countries have different requirements when it comes to labeling foods treated with radiation decontamination. The purpose of labeling is to ensure that the material is not irradiated again and also to provide information as required by the various governing bodies on food processing and safety.

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