Food irradiation is a process conducted in specialized facilities whereby ionizing radiation (gamma rays, electrons, or X rays) is applied to food to destroy or reduce microorganisms that cause foodborne illness. Irradiation destroys harmful bacteria like Salmonella, Escherichia coli, and Listeria, thereby improving food safety. It is also used instead of fumigation to control insects in imported food such as spices, fruits, and vegetables and to extend a food’s shelf life by retarding sprouting, ripening, and other inherent mechanisms of maturation. Irradiation has been approved for use in more than 60 countries for various applications and purposes in a wide variety of foodstuffs. After describing the history and process of food irradiation, this entry discusses its various effects and applications.

History of Food Irradiation

In 1905, shortly ...

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