Food Irradiation

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Food Irradiation: Solution to Hunger or Killer Mutagen?
People all over the world are starving for fresh, uncontaminated food. Insects, pests, and invisible microorganisms are not what the public want to find on their dinner plates. Throughout history, life has depended on ways of treating food to reduce or destroy these naturally occurring harmful contaminants and to enable foods to be stored after harvesting so that they can be saved for use at other times of the year. With increasing populations and the growth of cities, it is even more important to be able to preserve food so that it can be transported over considerable distances and stored for long periods before it reaches the consumer. The relentless pressure to supply safe foods to mass markets has led to major contamination problems arising in recent years. The food industry has responded by developing new methods to treat food, such as food irradiation. To some in the food industry, irradiation is a wonderful new technology that could solve many contamination problems without any apparent effects on the treated food. To the consumer, it is a new process that has unknown threats and benefits. Currently, 37 countries, including the United States, permit the use of irradiation and approximately 25 actually use it. Irradiation will remain an expensive and little used technology until there is general acceptance of irradiated foods by consumers.

The modern food industry has to make certain choices as to how and when it treats food during the food production cycle. It can start by reducing the level of microorganisms and pests in food by using...
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