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.
- 28 February 2018: Technical expert seminar on the preparation of the UK withdrawal in the SPS area - Food and Water