Food irradiation: a public health challenge for the 21st century
Sommaire de l'article
Although the United States food supply is generally considered one of the safest in the world, foodborne illnesses remain a concern. Each year, millions of Americans become ill and as many as 5000 die from foodborne infections. The United States Department of Agriculture estimates that medical treatment and productivity losses associated with foodborne illnesses cost as much as $37 billion annually. Irradiation, which involves exposing food briefly to radiant energy, can reduce or eliminate microorganisms that contaminate food or cause spoilage. So far, only limited quantities of irradiated foods-spices, herbs, dry vegetable seasonings, and some fresh fruits, vegetables, and poultry-have been available in the United States. Major purchasers are health care and food service establishments. The World Health Organization reviewed 500 studies and concluded that food irradiation poses no toxicological, microbiological, or nutritional problems. In more than 40 years, there have been no accidents in North America involving transport of the types of radioactive isotopes used for irradiation.