Home » Public Awareness » Societal Benefits »Food
Public Awareness:Food  
Radiation Technology for Value Addition to Food & Agro Commodities
International Approval

In 1980, a joint FAO/IAEA/WHO Expert Committee on Food Irradiation (JECFI) reviewed the extensive data on wholesomeness of irradiated foods collected up to that time and concluded that irradiation of any commodity up to an over all dose of 10 kGy presents no toxicological hazards and introduces no special nutritional or microbiological problems. Soon after, in 1983 Codex Alimentarius Commission, a body under FAO that sets standards for food world-wide, approved use of radiation for food processing bringing out Codex General Standard for Irradiated Foods.  In 2003 Codex Alimentarius Commission revised its Codex General Standard for Irradiated Foods to include application of doses higher than 10 kGy. In 2003 International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) included irradiation as a plant quarantine measure. The technology is also endorsed by the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Approval of radiation processing of food in India

In 1991 the Atomic Energy Act was amended and Atomic Energy (Control of Irradiation of Food) rules were notified. In 1994, Government of India amended Prevention of Food Adulteration Act (1954) Rules and approved irradiation of onion, potato and spices for domestic market. Additional items were approved by notifications published in 1998 and 2001

Sl.No. Name of food Dose of irradiation (kGy) Purpose
Min Max

1

Onion

0.03

0.09

Sprout inhibition

2

Potato

0.06

0.15

Sprout inhibition

3

Shallots (small onion) garlic, ginger

0.03

0.15

Sprout inhibition

4

Rice

0.25

1.0

Insect disinfestation

5

Semolina (Sooji or Rawa), Wheat atta and Maida

0.25

1.0

Insect disinfestation

6

Pulses

0.25

1.0

Insect disinfestation

7

Dried sea-food

0.25

1.0

Insect disinfestation

8

Raisins, figs and dried dates

0.25

0.75

Insect disinfestation

9

Mango

0.25

0.75

Shelf-life extension and quarantine treatment

10

Meat and meat products including chicken

2.5

4.0

Shelf-life extension and pathogen control

11

Fresh sea-food

1.0

3.0

Shelf-life extension

12

Frozen sea-food

4.0

6.0

Microbial pathogen control

13

Spices

6.0

14.0

Microbial decontamination

Items of food permitted for irradiation under Indian Prevention of Food Adulteration Act (PFA) Rules

In 2004, on the request of BARC, Ministry of Agriculture & Co-operation, Government of India, amended the plant quarantine regulations to include irradiation as a phytosanitary treatment. This enabled export of Indian mangoes to USA in 2007

Technology Demonstration Units
In India commercial food irradiation could be carried out in a facility licensed by the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB). The department of Atomic Energy has set up two technology demonstration units in India. The Radiation Processing Plant at Vashi, Navi Mumbai, mainly meant for treatment of spices, dry vegetable seasonings like onion flakes, and pet foods, is being operated by the Board of Radiation & Isotope Technology (BRIT).

KRUSHAK (Krushi Utpadan Sanrakshan Kendra), Lasalgaon, was set up in 2002 by BARC, to demonstrate low dose applications of radiation such as control of sprouting, insect disinfestation, and quarantine treatment. KRUSHAK became the first cobalt-60 gamma irradiation facility in the world, outside US, to be certified by USDA-APHIS for phytosanitary treatment enabling export of mango from India to the US after a gap of 18 years in 2007. Till 2012 around 1000 tons of mangoes have been exported to USA.

Commercial prospects in India

In India radiation processing of food can be undertaken both for export and domestic markets. For export food could be processed for shelf-life extension, hygienization, and for overcoming quarantine barriers. Huge quantities of cereals, pulses, their products, fruits and vegetables, seafood and spices are procured, stored, and distributed throughout the length and breadth of the country. During storage and distribution grains worth of thousand of crores of rupees are wasted due to insect infestation and related problems. Radiation processing can be used for storage of bulk and consumer packed commodities for retail distribution and stocking.

Other Technologies Developed by Food Technology Division

Litchi fruit is relished for its delicious taste, unique aroma, and juiciness, but its marketing is difficult due to its highly perishable nature, localized cultivation and seasonal availability. The fruit turns brown soon after harvest and spoils due to physiological and microbiological changes. Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, Mumbai has developed a sequential GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) chemical dip technology for increasing the shelf life of litchi fruit up to 60 days at 4°C, and maintaining its attractive pinkish-red color.

 
Next