Irradiation: A Safe Measure for Safer Food
Consumers beware! Are you afraid of the food on your plate? Well you should be if the hidden enemies lurking on your food have not been eradicated. "The threat is dangerous food-borne microorganisms that are tasteless, odorless, and invisible to the naked eye."(Acheson 1) Fortunately, forty years of research have proven that irradiation is a safe and effective method of killing bacteria and other disease causing microorganisms in food. Food irradiation continues to be a reliable technique that exposes food to controlled amounts of radiant energy for a specific time. In doing so, this radiation pasteurization further benefits food by slowing down the ripening of certain fruits and vegetables, giving them a longer life of freshness. It decreases nearly all of the harmful pathogens in the meat supply and specific kinds of fresh produce before it gets to the consumer. In spite of this safe, sanctioned food processing technology, public concern has been voiced about the loss of nutritional value in irradiated food and that food becomes "radioactive" potentially promoting cancer.
Yet food irradiation has been shown to be a successful food preservation process that should be extensively used to prevent foodborne diseases. Irradiation is an effective treatment to kill disease-causing
organisms in food, maintains food quality, and has been endorsed by scientists in the United States government as well as other agencies around the world.
Food irradiation is highly successful in eliminating disease-causing organisms. Much like pasteurization of liquids such as milk and juices, which uses heat energy to make them sterile, irradiation pasteurizes solid food to make it safe. The irradiation process is achieved by exposing food to any one of three different types of radiant energy: gamma rays, x-rays, and electron beams. In each of these processes, light...