Food is exposed to a carefully measured amount of intense ionizing radiation. This is done in a special processing room or chamber for a specified duration. With food irradiation, radiant energy (electrons, gamma rays, or x-rays) breaks chemical bonds, leaving the food still like-fresh, but with specific benefits, depending on treatment level.
Food is irradiated to make it safer and more resistant to spoilage. Irradiation destroys insects, fungi that cause food to spoil, or bacteria that cause food borne illness. Irradiation makes it possible to keep food longer and in better condition. Food irradiation is an alternative to some chemical treatments in crop storage. It provides higher quality fruit from insect quarantine areas. Food Irradiation is not a cure-all for all food problems. Proper handling and storage by the food industry and the consumer are still important.
Most irradiated food tastes the same as non-irradiated.
Flavor changes depend on the type of food being irradiated, the irradiation dose, and the temperature during treatment.
Many fruits and vegetables are unchanged by low dose irradiation. Irradiation can substitute for insect quarantine treatments that damage fruit quality, so irradiated fruit may taste better. Dried fruit softens slightly and is easier to rehydrate.