ANS American Nuclear Society
ANS
ANS HomeAboutMembersJoinContactSearch
Public Information

Resources

Teachers and Students

Media

Nuclear Professionals
ANS > Public Information > Resources > Special Topics > Food
Irradiation Advances Food Safety

Over 50 years of scientific research have demonstrated the effectiveness of irradiation to minimize food borne illness and decrease waste.  The term "irradiated" refers processes that treat foods with radiation.  Irradiation does not make the food radioactive; in fact, it changes the nutrient content no more significantly than cooking or freezing.  The food irradiation process involves exposing the food (packaged or in bulk) to a carefully controlled quantity of radiation energy for a specific time.

Foods ranging from fresh produce to prepared meals can be irradiated.  Various types of food products are irradiated to destroy harmful bacteria, inhibit spoilage, or kill insects.

Why irradiate foods?
Food-borne disease affects an estimated 76 million Americans every year and leads to nearly 325,000 hospitalizations.  The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimate that irradiating even half of all meat could prevent 900,000 cases of food poisoning.

Why support irradiated foods in schools?
With USDA approval, the National School Lunch Program now has irradiated beef on the menu.  The US military, hospitals, and NASA also serve irradiated foods to troops, patients and astronauts.

Is pasteurized the same as irradiated?
The two processes are often compared because both demonstrate how technology has improved the quality and safety of our food.  Irradiation promises to improve food safety in the 21st century to the degree that pasteurization and canning relegated fears of typhoid fever and botulism to the 19th century.

Where I can I find irradiated products?
Nearly two dozen supermarket chains provide irradiated meat for their customers in 30 states across the country.  Two major restaurant chains offer irradiated meat products in 145 establishments.

Who supports or endorses food irradiation?
· American Council on Science and Health
· Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
· United States Department of Agriculture
· American Medical Association
· American Dietetic Association
· American Council on Science and Health
· Centers for Disease Control
· Council for Agricultural Science and Technology
· National Food Processors Association
· United State's Department of Agriculture (USDA)
· U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
· World Health Organization
· American Veterinarian Medical Association

Related Links

AboutNuclear.org : Food

Food Irradiation Means Safer Food
Presented by the UW Food Irradiation Education Group
Questions or comments about the American Nuclear Society web site?  Contact the ANS Webmaster.