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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania » Eastern Regional Research Center » Food Safety and Intervention Technologies Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #193932


item Fan, Xuetong
item Sommers, Christopher

Submitted to: Journal of Food Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/1/2006
Publication Date: 7/15/2006
Citation: Fan, X., Sommers, C.H. 2006. Effect of gamma radiation on furan formation in ready-to-eat products and their ingredients. Journal of Food Science. 71(7):C407-C412.

Interpretive Summary: The presence of furan in processed foods is a concern because furan is listed as “reasonably anticipated to be human carcinogen” by the Department of Health and Human Services. Ionizing radiation is a nonthermal processing technology that effectively inactivates foodborne pathogens. However, it is unclear whether irradiation will induce furan formation in ready-to-eat (RTE) meat and poultry products. This study was conducted to investigate the formation of furan from RTE food products and their ingredients. Our results showed that irradiation induced furan formation in aqueous solutions of many RTE ingredients, such as vitamin C and sweeteners. However, when these ingredients were added to ground meat and poultry, no irradiation-induced furan was found. Furthermore, irradiation of commercial RTE food products and ground raw meats did not induce furan formation. This information is useful for the regulatory agencies as well as food industry to make science-based decisions on the use of irradiation for RTE food products.

Technical Abstract: Besides meat as the major component, ready-to-eat (RTE) meat and poultry products often contain ingredients such as Na-ascorbate, Na-erythorbate, glucose, honey, corn syrup and Na-nitrite. Furan is a potential carcinogen and information is needed on its formation in irradiated RTE products. In the present study, we investigated the generation of irradiation-induced furan in aqueous solutions of those ingredients, and in nine RTE food products (eight meat and poultry-based and one vegetable burger). Irradiation at doses up to 4.5 kGy induced formation of furan in aqueous solutions of Na-ascorbate, Na-erythorbate, glucose, honey, and corn syrup. Addition of Na-nitrite into these solutions prior to irradiation completely eliminated, or significantly reduced, furan formation. Most of the non-irradiated RTE products contained less than 1 ng/g of furan, except for beef and turkey frankfurters which contained 6-8 ng/g furan. Exposure of RTE food products to 4.5 kGy radiation in the non-frozen state (5 C) or to 10 kGy radiation in the frozen state (-18 C), did not significantly increase furan levels in most of the samples. Furthermore, the irradiation treatments reduced furan levels in samples (i.e. frankfurters) that contained more than 3 ng/g of furan. Our results suggested that irradiation induces furan formation in solutions of many RTE food ingredients, but not in RTE meat and poultry products themselves.