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Safety of Irradiated Foods.


SAFETY of IRRADIATED FOODS by J F Diehl. 345 pages with index. Price: 131.00 [pounds]. (Switzerland: Marcel Dekker Inc).

The irradiation of foods is currently a very emotive subject because some governments, like the UK one, are about to legislate to allow the use of this technique for food, whilst others already allow it. As one commentator remarked just recently "no other food process has received such scrutiny as regards safety over the last fifty years, and if canning had been subjected to the same scrutiny it probably wouldn't have been allowed". One concern surrounding the use of radiation on food products stem from the possibility of sub-standard foods being treated by radiation and then sold to the public. A popular misunderstanding is that food so treated then itself becomes radioactive.

The author has set out to compose a text for the non specialist and to give a balanced view of the subject, and to that end he has made every effort to explain complex matters in simple terms. The text is divided into chapters that, in a way, identify some of the major stumbling blocks to understanding this technique. Following an introduction, they run: Radiation sources and process control; Chemical effects of ionizing radiation; Biological effects of ionizing radiation; Radiological and toxicological safety of irradiated foods; Microbiological safety of irradiated foods; Nutritional adequacy of irradiated foods; Evaluation of the wholesomeness of irradiated foods by expert groups and international agencies; Potential and actual applications of food irradiation; Government regulation of irradiated foods; Consumer attitudes; Outlook, and several appendices.

This subject has a long history. More than eighty years ago the first patent involving the use of ionizing radiation for improving foodstuffs was granted to an Englishman. The first commercial use of irradiation in relation to a food product was made in 1957 in West Germany for improving the hygienic quality of spices. The downside of the technique has always been its safety in the eyes of the public but in 1980 the FAO/IAEA/WHO Joint Expert Committee on Irradiated Foods concluded that irradiation of any food commodity up to an overall average dose of 10kGy presented no toxicological hazard. Why not read up the subject for yourself?
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Publication:Food Trade Review
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Sep 1, 1990
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