Gamma Irradiation of Food




Methods to preserve our foods has been a problem of mankind since we settled into groups and began to store
our foods to eat at later times. As we stored our food to eat later, mankind often came back to collect his food
only to find that microbes, which are ever-present, had already eaten it.
We know about expiration dates on foods and by now in the class, we understand that with microbes, it is a
race between how fast one species grows against another. We eat the food before the microbes grow beyond
a certain point (spoil the food with their waste by-products).
Some foods store for longer than others and depending on natural and some less than natural processes, we
can extend the amount of time a food can be kept before microbes will take over and spoil the product.
Keeping produce fresh for long periods of time has been a problem since one cannot treat fresh fruits and
vegetables without altering the taste and texture.
A new and somewhat controversial method of food preservation, particularly produce, is gamma irradiation.
This method uses high-energy gamma radiation to treat food and has shown great promise in extending the
shelf-life. Gamma irradiation is approved for use and does not show any ill effect on the product itself.
Proponents of gamma irradiation claim that the method is safe, extends shelf life and leaves no residue or
otherwise dangerous chemicals on produce. Opponents argue the use of gamma irradiation is not safe, the
facilities where produce is treated is not the proper place for this type of radiation to be released and exposure
of the workers is likely.
Review these facts from the FDA on Food Irradiation.
Oppose the use and consumption of foods treated in this manner.
Research and Support your post to address the following questions;
-Would you eat gamma-irradiated strawberries?
-Gamma-irradiation does extend the shelf-life but after some time, mold does begin to grow. Where does the
mold come from?
-Was the mold already present on the strawberries and the growth slowed by the gamma irradiation?
-If gamma irradiation becomes the standard for processing produce, over time will the constant radiation
exposure select for resistant strains of microbes that will eventually be able to grow despite gamma radiation?
Why or why not?
-What about agricultural workers’ safety? Who is looking out for the women and men responsible for gamma
irradiation of produce?





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