Irradiated foods


Irradiation is the use of radiation from x-rays or radioactive materials on food. The radiation sterilizes food and kills bacteria but does not make the food itself radioactive.

The benefits of irradiating food includes the ability to control insects and bacteria, such as salmonella. The process can give foods (especially fruits and vegetables) a longer shelf life and cause less food poisoning.

Food irradiation is used extensively in many countries. In the U.S., the first three approved uses for food irradiation were sprout inhibition of white potatoes, insect de-infestation of wheat and wheat flour in the 1960s, and control of insects and microorganisms in spices and other seasonings in 1983.

Johns Hopkins patient information

Last revised: December 3, 2012
by Martin A. Harms, M.D.

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