According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), food irradiation contributes to the safety of our food. Food irradiation protects our food in a number of ways, including:
- Irradiating food doesn’t make it radioactive.
- Food pathogens, such as bacteria and molds, that degrade food and result in food poisoning and other illnesses are reduced or eliminated through food irradiation. For instance, irradiation can eradicate Salmonella, Campylobacter, and Escherichia coli bacteria. Each year, these bacteria infect millions of individuals, causing thousands of cases of hospitalisation.
- Salmonella can also be present in animal feed. The transmission of these germs to livestock can be stopped by irradiation.
- By delaying sprouting, food irradiation slows down the ageing process of foods like fruits and vegetables. Dry goods, such as grains and spices, can be preserved for a very long period by being irradiated. Additionally, it enables long-distance shipment of grains and spices.
- Agriculture may be safeguarded against the import of invasive pests like insects and worms by using food irradiation. Pests are either killed or sterilised by the radiation, which stops new pests from infecting crops.
Food that has already been contaminated with harmful chemicals cannot be removed by irradiation. Sometimes the bacteria themselves are not harmful, but the poisons they generate are. For instance, the bacteria Clostridium botulinum create a toxin that leads to the severe condition known as botulism. Food irradiation can prevent the C. botulinum bacterium from growing, spreading, and surviving, but it cannot get rid of the poison that it produces. Food irradiation, however, cannot eliminate all food hazards:
- Fruits and vegetables can age more slowly but not completely thanks to food irradiation. Their nutritional value, taste, and flavour might decline with age.
- Some foods’ flavours can be somewhat changed by irradiation. The modification is similar to how pasteurization changes the flavour of milk.