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Food Irradiation - Introduction

Irradiation is a physical treatment of food with high-energy, ionising radiation. It can be used to prolong the shelf life of food products and/or to reduce health hazards associated with certain products due to the presence of pathogenic micro-organisms.

The treatment may be applied for different purposes, such as:

  • Prevention of germination and sprouting of potatoes, onions and garlic.
  • Disinfestation by killing or sterilising insects which infest grains, dried fruit, vegetables or nuts.
  • Retardation of ripening and ageing of fruit and vegetables.
  • Prolongation of the shelf life and prevention of food-borne diseases by reducing the number of viable micro-organisms in meat, poultry and seafood.
  • Reduction of micro-organisms in spices and herbs.
  • In practice, the use of this technique is rather limited although it is authorised in many countries.


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