Food Irradiation

Myths about Food Irradiation

June 28, 2017

Irradiation offers health and convenience benefits for the public; however misconceptions about the process and its impact on people and the environment are sometimes presented. 

Myth: Irradiation would not be necessary if food production and processing facilities were cleaner.

Are Irradiated Foods in U.S. Supermarkets Now?

June 28, 2017

Irradiation is used to sterilize household products like Band-Aids, cotton balls, contact lens solution, baby pacifiers and many packaging items, sterilize medical products such as surgical gloves, destroy bacteria in cosmetics, make non-stick cookware coatings, purify wool, perform security checks on hand luggage at airports and make tires more durable.

Is This Technology Being Used in Other Countries?

June 28, 2017

Food irradiation has been approved in 41 countries for more than 30 products. Independent scientific committees in Denmark, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Canada and the World Health Organization have endorsed food irradiation.

There are more than 150 irradiation facilities in over 40 countries. An estimated 55 facilities worldwide use food irradiation and related food irradiation research, according to a 1989 Library of Congress Report.

Is Irradiated Food Safe?

June 28, 2017

Irradiated food can safely be consumed by anyone. In fact, irradiated poultry, meat and seafood (where approved) are recommended because of greater safety.

How is Safety Tested?

June 28, 2017

Safety testing of irradiated foods has taken place since the early 1950's. Irradiated foods have been fed to several species of animals, some up to 40 generations, and people have eaten irradiated foods as part of their total diet. Additionally irradiated foods have been evaluated chemically. Studies have consistently shown no increase in cancer, birth defects or any other negative effect.

Are There Hazards with Food Irradiation?

June 28, 2017

Today's consumers are increasingly concerned about environmental and worker safety. Since there are about 40 irradiators in the United States and many more world wide, a safety record is readily available.

Shipment of cobalt60 and other radioisotopes is governed by stringent rules and regulations. Cobalt60 is sealed in metal rods and must be shipped in reinforced, double encapsulated metal casks. These casks are designed to withstand the most severe accidents, including collisions, punctures and exposure to fire and water depths.

Are Irradiated Foods Labeled?

June 28, 2017

Government regulations require irradiated food at the retail level to be labeled "Irradiated" and to bear an international logo, the radura.

The petals represent the food, the central circle the radiation source, and the broken circle illustrate the rays from the energy source.

For irradiated foods that are not packaged, such as bulk containers of fruit and vegetable, retailers must prominently display the required logo and phrase. Labeling requirements apply only to whole foods that have been irradiated.

Consumer Acceptance of Food Irradiation

June 28, 2017

Consumer attitude and marketing studies show that, given information about irradiation, half or more will choose irradiated foods. A minority object to irradiation and will never select it.

In a 1995-96 study, after seeing a 10 minute video describing irradiation, interest in buying irradiated foods among California and Indiana consumers increased fron 57% to 82%.