Food Irradiation

Irradiation is physical treatment of food with high-energy ionising radiation to:

  • Destroy micro-organisms, viruses, bacteria or insects
  • Prevent germination and sprouting of potatoes, onions and garlic
  • Slow down ripening and ageing of fruit and vegetables
  • Prolong the shelf life and prevent food-borne diseases in meat, poultry and seafood

Its use is limited but authorised in many countries.

When is food irradiation authorised?

Treating food with ionising radiation may be authorised if:

  • there is reasonable technological need
  • it poses no health hazard
  • it benefits consumers
  • it does not replace hygiene, health or good manufacturing or agricultural practice

Irradiated food or one containing irradiated ingredients must be labelled .

Food irradiation has nothing to do with radioactive contamination of food resulting from a spill or an accident.