Irradiation Improves Safety of Food Supply

CHICAGO—Food irradiation is a proven, beneficial method of improving the safety of the food supply and poses no human health threat. This according to the latest Scientific Status Summary Irradiation and Food Safety, published by the not-for-profit Institute of Food Technologists and included in this month’s issue of Food Technology magazine.

The report specifically addresses and counters misleading claims that irradiation produces worrisome carcinogenic byproducts, is harmful to the environment, substantially reduces food macro- and micro-nutrients, or that its use allows for sloppy practices elsewhere in the food processing line. The summary supports the use of this technology as a means to inactivate pathogens, maintain quality, and increase shelf life, as part of an effective overall food processing management system.

The report calls for further research to focus on: Pathogen reduction protocols allowing for standards in pathogen control levels; Inactivation of viruses in ready-to-eat foods and minimally processed fruits and vegetables; Irradiating packaged meals; Packaging advancements affecting sensory attributes, and more.

Approved for use since 1963 to control mold and insect infestation in wheat and to inhibit the growth of sprouts on potatoes, irradiation is also used today on fruits, vegetables, meats, poultry and seafood to delay ripening, control microbiological pathogens, and even improve the safety of animal and pet foods.

The purpose of this Scientific Status Summary is to review the activity surrounding irradiation as a food safety measure and address issues of concern for consumers, activists, and government to provide a greater understanding of the technology.

This issue of Food Technology is available online at This and other recent IFT Scientific Status Summaries also can be accessed directly via the Web at


Founded in 1939, and with world headquarters in Chicago, Illinois, USA, the Institute of Food Technologists is a not-for-profit international scientific society with 26,000 members working in food science, technology and related professions in industry, academia and government. As the society for food science and technology, IFT brings sound science to the public discussion of food issues. For more on IFT, see

James N. Klapthor, Media Relations Manager
Phone: 312/782-8424 ext. 231
E-mail: [email protected]

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