What is Irradiated food? Culinary Arts

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Frances Bott answered
Irradiated food is food that is processed with careful doses of ionizing radiation; this ionizing radiation is used to kill certain pathogens and bacteria. Commonly, spices are treated with an irradiated food process before being bottled (or placed in plastic pouches) and sold on store shelves. This method of irradiating food is meant to protect the consumer from food poisoning that might occur due to the ingestion of pathogenic microorganisms.

  • Benefits of irradiated food

Food treated with ionizing radiation will spoil less easily, so it can remain on store shelves for a longer period of time. In the commercial business of selling foods, the shelf life of food products is a very important consideration that ultimately affects a food company's bottom line. By extending shelf life through the selling of irradiated foods, food companies can offer lower prices for their products.

If foods spoils more easily (without the irradiation process), food companies will need to produce more of what they sell and then transport it to stores - sometimes, wastage will occur, as spoiled products that were not sold by their best-before date will need to be tossed out and then replaced.

  • Drawbacks of irradiated food

Some foods can't be irradiated, because the process changes their taste and texture for the worse - one example is tomatoes. As well, certain types of viruses in food will not be eliminated by irradiation. Though the FDA considers irradiation of food to be a safe process, other watchdog organizations feel that tests and studies performed on this topic contain errors and issues that may affect human health and safety.

Irradiating of foods is a fact of life in today's world, and it may actually be increasing, as deadly bacteria, such as salmonella, is being detected on lettuce, meats, and other foods. However, this process will always be considered secondary to the proper cleaning, handling, and packaging of foods, which is of primary importance.

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