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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


item Sommers, Christopher

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/1/2003
Publication Date: 2/1/2003
Citation: Sommers, C.H. 2003. Toxicological safety of irradiated foods. Meeting Abstract.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Irradiation of foods for the purpose of improving microbiological safety, insect disinfestation, delay of ripening, inhibition of sprouting, and improvement of shelf-life has been an active area of research for over 45 years. Irradiation is currently approved by at least 40 countries world wide for a variety of food commodities. These approvals were issued after extensive toxicological testing of irradiated foods that included short-term genetic toxicology studies and long-term multigenerational feeding studies, using multiple animal species, that revealed no adverse affects following consumption of irradiated foods. These animal studies examined fertility rates and teratological potential in addition to the evaluating the ability of irradiated foods to induce tumors. Hundreds of studies, including those using human volunteers, have evaluated and validated the safety of irradiated foods. Recently, it was claimed that 2-dodecylcyclobutanone (2-DCB), an alkylcylcobutanone that is found in trace quantities in irradiated foods via the radiolysis of palmitic acid, produced weak genotoxicity in a short-term DNA strand breakage assay, the Comet Assay. Unfortunately, the Comet Assay has not been validated for detection of weak genotoxins, produces false positive results due to non-genotoxic cell death, and has not been approved by international regulatory agencies. In order to more accurately assess the genotoxicity of 2-DCB, it was tested in the Escherichia coli TRP Reverse Mutation Assay, the Salmonella Mutagenicity Test, and the Yeast DEL Assay. 2-DCB did not induce point mutations in the E. coli TRP Reverse Mutation Assay, did not induce point mutations or frameshift mutations in the Salmonella Mutagenicity Test, and did not induce chromosomal recombination in the Yeast DEL Assay. The inability of 2-DCB to cause either mutations or genomic rearrangements in these short-term genetic toxicology tests are in agreement with long-term genetic toxicology studies in animals of irradiated food products and again affirm the toxicological safety of irradiated foods.

Last Modified: 08/16/2017
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