The biological effects of strong doses of radiation are used for the conservation of dietary products. In products to sterilise or to conserve, the path of radiation that destroys bacteria and other micro organisms does not leave any radioactivy behind. The only waste product left is a small amount of molecules that have been altered in the food by the passing of energy. For this reason irradiation by rays offers interesting possibilities for the conservation of food products.
When the radiation is applied in the prescribed doses to certain products, the process reduces the deterioration and poisoning of these product. The marketing of these irradiated products has been authorised in 40 countries; but not all. The commercialisation is supported by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and in the United States, by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The irradiation of food products has advantages over other methods of conventional preservation. Firstly, radiation does not leave additives, as with preservatives. Fruits and vegetables keep their taste, texture, and nutritional value, in contrast to the consequences of cooking, freezing, the addition of preservatives, drying or setting into powder. The irradiation has been proven to be effective in neutralising the pathogens in chickens (Campylobacter), minced meat of beef (Cryptosporidium, E.Coli) as well as listeria, salmonella and toxoplasma.
At a medium dose, radiation induced ionisation allows the conservation of fresh fishes, strawberries, the elimination of altering agents and micro-organism pathogens in seafood, chicken and meats (fresh or frozen products) and the improvements of foods, for example the increase in the use-by date for grape juice or the shortening of the cooking time of dried vegetables.
At a strong dose, ionisation allows the industrial sterilisation of meats, chicken and sea food, ready to eat foods, hospital rations and the decontamination of certain additives and ingredients such as spices, gum, and enzyme preparations.
Indeed irradiation of consumer products can be authorised because it does not leave any radioactivity behind.
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