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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: 6/2/2004
Publication Date: 8/6/2004
Citation: Sommers, C.H. 2004. Recent advances in food irradiation. ACS, August 6, 2004, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. p.1.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Ionizing radiation is a safe and effective method for inactivating bacteria in food and has been approved by the U.S. FDA to reduce levels of pathogens and spoilage bacteria in spices, raw meat and poultry, eggs, and seeds used for sprouting. A petition to allow irradiation of ready-to-eat foods is currently under review by the U.S. FDA. Ready-to-eat foods (RTE), which are packaged after processing or cooking, are susceptible to contamination prior to packaging by psychrotrophic foodborne pathogens such as Listeria monocytogenes. L. monocytogenes has been responsible for a number of well-publicized foodborne illness outbreaks and product recalls associated with RTE food products including frankfurters, bologna, ham, and turkey, cheese, salad vegetables and multi-component RTE sandwiches. Research conducted at USDA's Eastern Regional Research Center indicates that ionizing radiation can inactivate L. monocytogenes on RTE foods. The radiation dose needed to reduce L. monocytogenes levels by 99.999 percent varies by the product type (processed meats, vegetables or frozen vegetables, breads, cheeses, etc.), and even within product types depending on the product formulation. The use of an intervention technology must always be evaluated to determine the effect of that technology on product quality. For processed meats those quality factors include color, lipid oxidation, texture and volatile sulfur compound generation. Quality factors for vegetables include electrolyte leakage, firmness, antioxidant power, vitamin content and enzymatic browning. Each product is unique for the radiation dose needed to inactivate L. monocytogenes, while at the same time maintaining product quality.

Last Modified: 05/28/2017
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