Food Irradiation is essentially the process of exposure to radiation, like in the case of x-rays, gamma rays, or ultrasound waves, without direct physical contact with the food. The radiation will only be absorbed when the molecules of the food contact the radiation. When radiation is passed through a food item, some energy is absorbed by some organic compounds, while some is lost as heat.
Food irradiation is essentially the procedure of exposing food and its packaging to electromagnetic radiation, including by gamma rays, x-rays or electric charges, without directly touching the food item. Any material that is subjected to this type of radiation is called "irradiated," and the quality of the food remains intact and may not degrade. Once food is irradiated, it may never be the same again.
The process is used to increase the survival of various food items and is known as irradiation. It is one of the methods used to preserve different varieties of food, even fish. Although it is generally safe when exposed to natural light and naturally occurring radioactive elements, food irradiation cannot be used on all types of food products, as it poses a danger in terms of both health and food spoilage. There are several different types of irradiation; these include:
Electron beam: Food irradiation uses high-energy electrons to destroy microorganisms and pests in food. The radiation is generally used to kill insects and mites, which are present on raw and cooked vegetables. When exposed to this radiation, the vegetables are destroyed; however, this does not mean that other pests present in the same container are killed. The main advantage of this method is that the edible portions of the food do not undergo any damage. However, when vegetables are stored at high temperatures, they become damaged because of retained heat.
Biological contaminants: Food irradiation also uses the concept of biological contamination. This type of contamination can be caused by the interaction of living organisms with irradiated particles. This can lead to cross-contamination of uncontaminated materials during storage. Some forms of this food safety system include: bacterial spores, enzymes, cellular growth, and viruses.
Chemical bonds: Food irradiation utilizes high levels of electrical and chemical potential energies, known as irradiation. These energies release the atoms and molecules into the surrounding medium. This creates a process that results in the destruction of some microorganisms and pests. This type of food safety system is commonly used to kill bacteria and insects.
Food Spoilage: If there is no proper food storage or handling practice, food irradiation has the potential to shorten the shelf life of some types of foods. Furthermore, it can result in botulism poisoning. In this instance, victims may suffer from muscle weakness, respiratory tract infection, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, and others. The risk of developing food allergies is very high when food irradiation occurs. Some common food allergens include peanuts, shellfish, eggs, fish and other seafood, wheat, milk, and eggs. Thus, food processing companies must be constantly on guard against food contamination by using appropriate equipment and implementing stringent Food Safety Management System procedures.