List of Terms: I
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Attachment and growth of pathogenic micro-organisms, including bacteria, protozoans, viruses, and parasites, on or within the body of a human or animal.
> Inspection (see Food Inspection)
A condition in which the body is poisoned by a toxin. The substance can disrupt the functioning of the intestinal cells or can be absorbed into the blood and carried to parts of the body. Intoxication caused by bacterial toxins usually results in headache, dizziness, vomiting, and stomach pains.
A process in which ionizing energy is used to kill pathogens and other harmful substances in food by causing breaks in the cell's deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA).
Food Safety Implication: Food irradiation is a technology, like heating, that can destroy harmful bacteria in raw foods. Irradiation complements, but does not replace the need for proper food preparation, storage, and distribution practices by producers, processors, and consumers.
How It Works: An intense pulse of energy is emitted, either from a gamma radiation source like Cobalt 60 or from an electrical source like an electron beam accelerator. The energy penetrates the food and destroys any bacteria.
Four Main Purposes of Food Irradiation:
- Preservation - Irradiation can be used to destroy or inactivate organisms that cause spoilage and decomposition, thereby extending the shelf life of foods.
- Sterilization - Foods that are sterilized by irradiation can be stored for years without refrigeration. Sterilized food is useful in hospitals for patients with severely-impaired immune systems, such as AIDS patients or people undergoing chemo-therapy. Irradiated foods can also be used by the military and for space flights.
- Control Sprouting, Ripening, and Insect Damage - Irradiation offers an alternative to chemicals for use with potatoes, tropical and citrus fruits, grains, spices, and seasonings. However, since no residue is left in the food, irradiation does not protect against reinfestation as insect sprays and fumigants do.
- Control Foodborne Illness - Irradiation can be used to effectively eliminate pathogens that cause foodborne illness, such as Salmonella.
Food Irradiation Timeline
1920s: French scientists discover that irradiation preserves foods.
1963: Irradiation is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to control insects in wheat and wheat powder. Although irradiation was not used in the United States at this time, 400,000 tons of wheat per year were irradiated in the Ukraine to kill insects.
1964: This is the first time irradiation was used in the United States. The FDA approves irradiation to extend the shelf life of white potatoes.
1970s: The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) adopts irradiation to sterilize meat for astronauts to eat in space. Irradiation is still used by NASA today.
1997: Red meat is approved for irradiation by the FDA.
2000: The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) approves the irradiation of beef. Shell eggs and seeds for growing sprouts are approved for irradiation by the FDA.
2005: Molluscan shellfish is approved for irradiation by the FDA, making it the most recent food to be approved. Irradiation is used to control pathogens, such as Vibrio species and other foodborne pathogens in fresh or frozen molluscan shellfish (e.g., oysters, mussels, and clams).
> Isolate (see Food Isolate)