Radiation and Food
How radiation is used in the food industry
Radiation in Food
Irradiation of food is a technology for eliminating food-born pathogens, such as salmonella. Irradiation kill bacteria and other pathogens. If these pathogens are not killed, it could result in spoilage or food poisoning.
Food irradiation uses 3 types of radiation sources:
1. Cobalt-60 Gamma Source
- up to 95% of its emitted energy is available for use
- penetrates deeply
- yields substantial uniformity of the dose in the food product
- decays to non-radioactive nickel
- considered to pose low risk to the environment.
- cobalt-60 "pencils" require frequent replenishment
- treatment of the food is relatively slow.
2. Electron Beam Generators
- they can be turned on only as needed
- they do not require replenishment of the source as does cobalt-60
- there is no radioactive waste
- shallow depth of penetration
- e-beams must be converted to x-rays to penetrate large items such as carcasses
- high electric power consumption
- complexity, and potentially high maintenance
3. X-Ray Accelerators
Advantages: Uses high penetration, but share the other e-beam technology disadvantages.