Food Irradiation

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%.


History of Food Irradiation

June 28, 2017

Research on food irradiation dates back to the turn of the century. The first U.S. and British patents were issued for use of ionizing radiation to kill bacteria in foods in 1905. Food irradiation gained significant momentum in 1947 when researchers found that meat and other foods could be sterillized by high energy and the process was seen to have potential to preserve food for military troops in the field. To establish the safety and effectiveness of the irradiation process, the U.S.


June 28, 2017

Dr. Christine M. Bruhn
Project Leader
Director, Center for Consumer Research &
Consumer Food Marketing Specialist
Department of Food Science & Technology
UC Davis
Phone (530) 752-2774
Fax (530) 752-3975