International Status of Food Irradiation
Chris.Forbes-Ewan at dsto.defence.gov.au
Tue Feb 15 17:27:42 PST 2000
Recently there was some discussion about food irradiation on this listserv.
I have just come across the following notes taken by a colleague at the
International Conference on Radiation Processing, conducted in Melbourne,
Australia, 14-19 March, 1999. His report is in dot-point form. I'm not sure
how dot points will cope with cyberspace and firewalls, but I will send the
report as he wrote it and hope that it gets through.
Defence Nutrition Research Centre
76 George St
Scottsdale Tas 7260
Phone: Int + 61 3 6352 6607 (03 6352 6607 within Australia)
Fax: Int + 61 3 6352 3044 (03 6352 3044 within Australia)
E-mail: chris.forbes-ewan at dsto.defence.gov.au
The views expressed in this message are those of the author and do not
necessarily represent the position of the Defence Science and Technology
Organisation or of the Australian Department of Defence.
1. Overseas use of food irradiation:
* In the UK use has been permitted in principle since 1990. There was
initial use of the technology but there has been virtually no foods
irradiated in the past 2 years. The reason given is that 4 companies control
70% of food sales and because of the intense competition none of the 4 is
willing to risk giving a competitor a marketing edge.
* South Africa have been processing shelf stable products for the
outdoor market (hiking, rafting etc)
* Have had large increases in production since 1990.
* Not allowed to advertise as irradiated because did not want
* Consumer response of 15% likely to try rising to 75% after
information on process and tasting of product.
* In Japan the major use is with potato sprout inhibition.
* Hawaii is looking at a commercial radiator to overcome fruit fly
problems. Successfully ship papaya, lychee & rambutan to mainland US for
radiation treatment. Shipments rose from 6 in '95 to 125 in '98. Found that
markets would accept irradiated product if of high quality and a fair price.
The example given was of papaya at $24/case irradiated c/w $11 for local
* USDA issued proposed guidelines for irradiation of red meat for
human consumption in Feb '99 (Comments due April '99 may be extended for
extra 30 days).
* These guidelines have maximum doses but no minima.
* Must be used in conjunction with HACCP
* Key personnel must be trained in food tech and irradiation
* Allows red meat and poultry mix
* Allows for control of pathogens and shelf life extension
* USDA will petition FDA to change poultry regs (have been able to
irradiate for some years) which are much more stringent than red meat.
* France has 24 products that may be irradiated. Total of ~ 15 tonnes
treated each year. Not much consumer resistance but also not much
* Labelling of irradiated product is generally required. How this can
be achieved in a positive fashion was a matter of concern to many delegates.
* Second generation labelling is also of concern. Should minor
ingredients such as spices have to be listed in a finished product as
* In the US irradiation is listed by the FDA as an additive and
therefore labelling provisions apply.
* The Australian Food Council would like irradiation to been seen as
an approved safe process and therefore specific labelling is not required.
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