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Food Irradiation

Irradiation is physical treatment of food with high-energy ionising radiation to:

  • Destroy micro-organisms, viruses, bacteria or insects

  • Prevent germination and sprouting of potatoes, onions and garlic

  • Slow down ripening and ageing of fruit and vegetables

  • Prolong the shelf life and prevent food-borne diseases in meat, poultry and seafood

Its use is limited but authorised in many countries.

When is food irradiation authorised?

Treating food with ionising radiation may be authorised if:

  • there is reasonable technological need

  • it poses no health hazard

  • it benefits consumers

  • it does not replace hygiene, health or good manufacturing or agricultural practice

Irradiated food or one containing irradiated ingredients must be labelled.

Food irradiation has nothing to do with radioactive contamination of food resulting from a spill or an accident.