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The Preservation of Food by Irradiation - A Factual Guide to the Process and Its Effect on Food.

Irradiation has had a 'bad press', which doesn't help those who wish to understand what it can do and what, if any, are the side effects. Already around forty countries in the world allow food to be irradiated and the UK joined that list very recently, in that it now allows spices and herbs to be irradiated. Powerful lobbies in the UK have ensured that a considerable amount of unbalanced and 'scary' information has been released for public consumption. Dr Robbins discusses the problems, so that readers get an informed view.

Following an introduction, chapter titles run: The irradiation of food; The process of food irradiation and its effects; Legislation and control of food irradiation; Combination treatments with food irradiation; Current utilisation of food irradiation; and Consumer reactions to irradiated foods. These are followed by Appendices covering the effects of radiolysis on certain major components of food and the detection of prior radiation.

We all know it is a preservation technique, so why do we need it? After all the technique has been around all this century because its lethal effect on micro-organisms was discovered early on, and after the development of the nuclear fission bomb during the Second World War much effort was put into checking the biological effects that might ensue from an atomic explosion. Because of possible lethal effects from the irradiation source, the whole technique of irradiation is governed by a series of laws and restrictions, to ensure both safety and no excess dosing to achieve the required effect of food sterility. At the moment the USSR is the largest irradiator of foodstuffs, producing some twenty times as much as Japan, the next largest operator. Both these countries use irradiation for a single material; in the former case it is for grain and in the latter potatoes. However, the Netherlands and Belgium, also with relatively large irradiation facilities, are more geared to export, although South Africa allows the widest range of food materials to be irradiated. Extensive consumer research carried out in the USA seems to indicate that consumers are getting less wary now that more information is available, and that opinion could be moulded in a more positive way. The major concern seems to be that the technique of irradiation could allow the use of unwholesome food, although responsible manufacturers will be only too well aware that only high quality raw materials can be turned into high quality products.
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Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Food Trade Review
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Aug 1, 1991
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