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Free Content The Pros and Cons of Using Irradiation for Phytosanitary Treatments

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A large number of facilities world-wide are permitted to use ionising radiation as a food treatment. For example, at the time of writing, there are 32 facilities approved to irradiate food for the EU market. However, radiation processing in the EU is carried out to destroy harmful microorganisms in spices, as well as on pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and medical equipment, but is not currently being used to control pests on fruit and vegetables. However, under the current EU regulatory framework it is possible for food commodities irradiated to prevent the spread of alien invasive pests, to be exported to the European Community. A common set of rules and procedures for controlling food irradiation has been accepted across all EU Member States and are given in EC Directive 1999/2/EC, these include allowing irradiation 'to rid foodstuffs of organisms harmful to plant or plant products'. However, some EU countries only allow dried aromatic herbs, spices and vegetable seasonings to be irradiated whereas other EU counties allow many more types of irradiated foods to be marketed. For example, in the United Kingdom the Food Irradiation (England) Regulations 2009 list seven broad categories of food which may be irradiated, including fruit (2 kGy maximum 'overall average' dose) and vegetables (1 kGy 'maximum overall average' dose). Elsewhere in the world, an increasing number of countries are using irradiation as a phytosanitary treatment for commercial exports of fresh commodities, and others are investigating its use for phytosanitary purposes. With increasing volumes of commodities being traded worldwide, there is an urgent need for effective disinfestations treatments to prevent the dissemination of alien invasive pests. The banning of the fumigant methyl bromide for all purposes (including phytosanitary and preshipment uses) in the EU has further increased the need for effective alternatives. This article discusses the pros and cons of irradiation from a phytosanitary perspective.

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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2012-06-01

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