“Irradiated business”: how radiation treatment prolongs the life of goods
We talk about the practice of radiation exposure of products-tea, sausages, etc. – to protect against microbes and mold; explain how this affects the health of consumers and the shelf life of products
For more than half a century, products that have been exposed to radiation have been used in the world. But we don’t know much about it.
The phrase “radiation exposure” usually causes panic among ordinary people. But the professional use of technology comes to the aid of a person where microbes and bacteria can get into the body and lead to serious infectious diseases.Irradiation technology is becoming more and more popular. In addition to customers who manufacture single-use medical products (syringes, medical underwear, bandages, cotton wool, Slippers, masks, blood transfusion systems, and so on), manufacturers of various spices and spices, teas, nuts, and fruits are in second place. Dry seasonings, herbal preparations, and dry greens are used for making semi-finished products and as an additive to food. They are usually heavily contaminated with insects, mold and other pathogens and require additional cleaning to be suitable for food for a long time. Third, the technology is used to process materials in the automotive and construction industries for modification purposes. This is how new types of insulation, noise-absorbing materials, as well as heat-shrinkable cables and sealants are produced.
A special unit — an elementary particle accelerator-is used for processing products.
The installation works only when connected to electricity. It is able to generate a beam of electrons, which in itself is a strong ionizing radiation that is harmful to humans. But it should not be confused with radioactive isotopes that are produced in the nuclear industry — in a nuclear reactor (cobalt, caesium and other uranium decay products). Such substances were released into the atmosphere after numerous nuclear explosions on our planet and after the Chernobyl accident, they have a long half-life and can cause harm to humans by their impact.
The accelerator technology is completely different. But, of course, all necessary security measures have been taken: the installation is located in a special protective shelter — a reinforced concrete bunker. The irradiation used does not cause activation (induced radioactivity) in the product. Neither food products nor medical materials become radioactive after processing. The use of food purified by this technology is absolutely safe.
Electron beam processing of food is permitted by the world Health Organization who and the FAO (Food Association Organization, world Food Safety Organization). Medical materials become sterile after processing. In order to avoid changes in the material, there are strict limits on radiation doses.
The exposure dose is regulated by the intensity of the radiation and the speed at which the product passes under the beam. This is controlled by specialists of an accredited laboratory. They experimentally thoroughly investigate the parameters of exposure to radiation on the product. For example, for medical products, it is necessary to achieve sterility according to the international standard ISO11137. For this purpose, the impact can be 2-4 times stronger than on the food product. For food products, you should only reduce the number of microorganisms so that they stop growing. But there is no task to completely kill them, to make the product sterile.
Paradoxically, there are no alternative cleaning methods for spices. In all countries, radiation sterilization is acceptable and recommended, no matter how people treat this treatment. We all grew up with the idea that spices and seasonings work in food as a preservative. Unfortunately, this is a big myth. They only mask the unpleasant smell of food, add piquancy to the taste. Since childhood, everyone has heard about the magical bactericidal properties of garlic and onions. But both garlic and onion suffer from certain diseases, they are susceptible to mold, and after drying, they are attacked by dangerous microorganisms for humans.
Russia has long introduced technological regulations on food safety, which strictly prescribes the possible “bio-loading” of the product (the number and type of microorganisms contained). If the threshold is exceeded, the product is considered unsuitable for consumption and can cause health problems: first of all, it is gastrointestinal disorders. In some cases, they can lead to death. Every year, more than 40 million cases of acute food poisoning are registered in the world. Of course, there are many more unregistered cases. People go to the doctor only in severe forms, then it gets into the statistics. Humanity is constantly surrounded by food poisoning of varying severity.
According to the latest research by Rospotrebnadzor of the tea market in the Russian Federation, a significant part of them is unacceptably infected with mold. Making such tea, a person will do more harm than good.
Condiments are sold in beautiful bags, boxes and bottles with dispensers. But in addition, they are used in huge quantities by manufacturers of meat and fish semi-finished products. In factories there is an incoming quality control. If the contamination of spices is more than acceptable, the product can not be accepted for production. The main customers of sterilization are suppliers of spices and spices for sausage, fish factories and meat processing plants, and even cheese producers. Their task is to kill as many microorganisms as possible and clean their product.
Although radiation exposure is not prohibited, there are no sanitary norms and rules for radiation treatment of food products in our country. Therefore in different regions of the Russian Federation the Federal service to such treatment is different. Someone can allow, someone can forbid. All refer to the FAO Codex Alimentarius and who food standards. But it is impossible to clean spices with steam, gas, or other alternative methods of sterilization — chemicals will remain or the product will become unusable. Radiation treatment has proven itself very well in this field and has been used massively all over the world for more than 40 years.
In the world experience, it is also popular to treat fish and meat preserves with a beam of ionizing radiation to increase their shelf life. All harmful microorganisms are killed, preserves are turned into a kind of canned food. Radioactivity in the products does not occur, they can be safely consumed. Back in the 80’s of the last century, who spent a lot of effort to Finance and study the effects of ionizing radiation on different types of products. According to the report, there were no changes in doses of up to 10 kilogrees per food product: the product remains suitable for food, and the microorganisms contained in it die.
Food giants try to minimize their losses. Their task is to achieve long-term storage of products and the absence of microorganisms that can lead to poisoning and, especially, serious diseases and death of a person. McDonald’s, Burger King and Subway, for example, force their suppliers to process radiation packages, boxes, and possible containers for storing bulk products used in production. Caps on PET bottles for juice or milk in America and Europe are also often treated with ionized radiation. In India and South-East Asia, such processing of fresh fruits and vegetables and fresh seafood is very popular in order to improve food safety and extend shelf life. Few people know: in the United States, it is forbidden to import a number of fresh vegetables and fruits without their preliminary radiation treatment. This is done to prevent pests from entering the United States from other parts of the world.
There are more than 600 radiation processing plants worldwide. The vast majority of them are multi-purpose centers. There can be processed completely different products: medical, various polymer or food.