Course:FNH200/Lessons/Lesson 10/Page 10.1

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10.1 Introduction

Terms to remember

  • Electromagnetic spectrum
  • Ionizing energy
  • X-rays, gamma and beta rays
  • Division 26 of the Food and Drugs Act and Regulations
  • MeV, kGy
  • Free radicals
  • Unique radiolytic products
  • Radurization, Radicidation and Radappertization
  • Radura symbol

Aside from the use of genetically modified organisms in foods, there is perhaps no other method of food preservation that has generated as much heated debate recently as food irradiation. Although the basic concept of food irradiation as a food preservation technology is not new (a patent for food preservation by irradiation was applied for in the United States in 1921), it is nonetheless a controversial method of food preservation.

Much of the controversy about food irradiation seems to stem from a fear of the unknown and unfamiliar - we have often seen references in media reports of food irradiation associated with radioactive fallout, accidents at nuclear power plants and concerns about nuclear war and weapons testing. This has led to further confusion in the minds of the general public about food irradiation and what the process actually involves. Upon completing this lesson, you will have a good knowledge of what food irradiation is, what its potential applications are, the physical process of food irradiation, and limitations and advantages of food irradiation as a method of food preservation.