Preserving food by radiation
Preservation of food is very important because it aims at preventing microbial spoilage of food products and growth of food borne pathogens. There are a number of methods used to preserve food and among them is radiation. Preserving food by radiation means ionizing radiation also known as irradiation. The process involves exposing food to ionizing radiation that destroys microorganisms, insects, bacteria or virus that might be present in food. The method works through processing of food with ionizing radiation by gamma rays, high-energy electrons or x-rays from accelerators (Tomoda, 2006). Treatment of food through this process has certain effects which include killing insect pests, molds, bacteria, inducing sterility and reducing spoiling or ripening of fruits. The technology of food preservation by radiation is compared with cold pasteurization because the food products are not heated. Food preservation by radiation is applicable in preserving food of high initial quality, as it is not always effective against viruses.
Radiation process is unrelated to nuclear energy although it uses radiation emitted from radioactive nuclides produced in nuclear reactors. Food irradiation is one of the best applications of atomic energy in food preservation since development of canning. It is an alternative to fumigants which are being phased out because of their negative effects to human health and environment. Preserving food by radiation is more advantageous than using other food preservation methods because it does not lead to loss of quality, oduor, flavour or texture (Ann, 2008). Radiation is used to preserve almost all types of foodstuffs as long as they are of initial high quality. Radiation processing is used for anti-infestation of food grains; inhibit sprouting in potatoes, onions, ginger or yam, and prevention of microbial contamination of species. In addition, food preservation by radiation extends shelf life under certain conditions of storage including overcoming of quarantine barriers in international trade.
Ann, W. (2008). Waste Not, Want Not: Food Preservation from Early Times to the Present Day. New York: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates
Tomoda, S. (2006). Recent Developments in the Food and Drink Industry. International Review Journal, Vol. 131, p. 23- 39