Course:FNH200/Lessons/Lesson 10/Page 10.11

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10.11 Summary of Lesson 10

  • Food irradiation refers to the process of preserving food by using ionizing energy. In Canada, it is regulated under Division 26 of the Food and Drugs Act and Regulations.
  • Ionizing energy is characterized by having short wavelengths with high penetrating power. Examples of these forms of energy are X-rays, gamma and beta rays.
  • The energy emitted from these sources is measured in MeV. Whereas, the amount of energy absorbed by the food is measured in kGy.
  • Food will not become radioactive if the energy sources are operated at levels <15 MeV
  • The preservation principle of food irradiation involves a direct and indirect effect on microorganisms.
  • There are some oxidative changes as well as unique radiolytic products (ACBs, benzene, etc) that have been traced to certain irradiated food products.
  • Irradiation in the frozen state, under a vacuum or using antioxidants, are examples of mechanisms available to try and minimize these undesirable changes.
  • Depending on the absorbed dose, different irradiation methods can be achieved (radurization, radicidation and radappertization)
  • There are several factors that affect food irradiation (safety & wholesomeness, resistance of food, microorganisms and enzymes, as well as cost)
  • The safety & wholesomeness of irradiated foods is evaluated by the Health products and food Branch of Health Canada. It relies on 4 basic principles (radiological, toxicological and microbiological safety, and nutritional adequacy)
  • There are only certain foods currently approved for treatment by ionizing radiation in Canada.
  • There are specific labelling regulations for food treated with ionizing radiation


FNH 200 Course content on this wiki page and associated lesson pages was originally authored by Drs. Brent Skura, Andrea Liceaga, and Eunice Li-Chan. Ongoing edits and updates are contributed by past and current instructors including Drs. Andrea Liceaga, Azita Madadi-Noei, Nooshin Alizadeh-Pasdar, and Judy Chan.

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1. Ionizing energy preserves food indirectly by forming ... (Choose two)

Free radicals
Radiative food
Hydrogen peroxide, H2O2
Radiolytic products

2. Which regulatory agency is responsible for the labeling and advertising of irradiated foods in Canada?

Atomic Energy of Canada
Canadian Food Inspection Agency
Canadian Irradiation Centre
Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission

3. Choose the best definition of ionizing energy.

Energy that produces radioactivity in its target.
Energy in the form of long waves with low energy.
Energy in the form of short waves with high energy.
Energy propagated through matter and space including long and short waves.

4. What is the maximum amount of ionizing energy used in food processing agreed upon internationally?

5 MeV
10 MeV
15 MeV
20 MeV

5. Enzymes remain active after irradiation unlike the inactivation they undergo during blanching.