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12 July 2017

Irradiación de alimentos: claves esenciales para entender el proceso

This headline appeared on the South American website Infobae Tendencies a few days ago. The article is in Spanish and can be accessed via the following link – Infobae Tendencies. The article references iia and members Daniel Perticaro (Ionics) and Celina Horak (CNEA). The website article includes links to several interesting short videos. We have done our best to translate the content of the article into English. The translated copy appears below.

En estos cubículos son puestos los alimentos y otros productos a inoizarse (Ionics)

“The reform of the Argentine Food Code will allow the sale of products subject to gamma ionization. Infobae consulted with the experts who operate the two plants that carry out this process in the country

A great stir was generated last week with the news of the reform of the Argentine Food Code (CAA) that will allow the internal sale and export of irradiated food, a new generation of “long life” that will reach consumers in a few weeks.

This practice that was already carried out in Argentina with certain foodstuffs and other items, has several years in other countries of the world, such as the United States, France, Germany and our neighbor Brazil.

It has been allowed for some thirty years for: potatoes, onions, garlic, dehydrated vegetables, spices and condiments, dried mushrooms and asparagus. But now it will jump to more consumed products like meats, fish, chickens and more.

Today, more than 700,000 tons of irradiated food are sold in the world, whose most important benefit is the extension of commercial life, accompanied by the reduction of cold chains and high transportation costs.

Daniel Perticaro, general manager of Ionics – the only private company that irradiates food in the country at a plant in Tigre that has just been expanded – explained to Infobae how the process by which food is irradiated.

“Gamma ionization is a technique that is used for a wide variety of applications, providing healthier and more durable foods, phytosanitary control for export products, sterilization of medical devices and injectable products for industry Pharmaceutical and Veterinary Supplies Sterile supports for inoculants are obtained in agronomic applications “.

Perticaro said the technology is simple and safe and consists of exposing the products to the energy emitted by a source of radiation, so that the product absorbs a controlled amount of energy per unit mass.

All of this is endorsed by the National Nuclear Regulatory Authority (ANMAT) and the International Irradiation Association (IIA), as well as ISO 9000, IRAM and IQNET Certifications, RN Operation License, and Certificate of Establishment Qualification , Of Good Manufacturing Practices.

According to Perticaro, in the company Cobalto-60 sources are of Argentine production and are stored in a pool with demineralized water, the most suitable biological shielding. “The irradiation enclosure has concrete walls up to two meters thick, which preserves the adjacent work and command areas. The products are entered and removed from the enclosure, through a labyrinth, by automatic transport systems, controlled by careful Monitoring procedures “.

By its nature, gamma radiation does not produce induced radioactivity nor is there residual radiation. It maintains the safety and nature of the products. In addition, the gamma ionization process is completely harmless and does not produce industrial effluents.

“In an industrial plant of ionization the control of the absorbed dose is done through a single parameter, the exposure time. Thus, with a single variable to be controlled, the process is of high reliability and exact repeatability,” he concluded.

Ionization from the State

The other Argentine plant where this process occurs is in Ezeiza and belongs to the National State, more precisely to the National Atomic Energy Commission (CNEA).

Celina Horak, Manager of Radiation Applications and Technology of CNEA, told Infobae the safety of the process of ionization of food and other products of frequent consumption as pharmaceutical, veterinary and cosmetic elements.

“The ionization of food is a physical method, in which they are exposed to a source of energy generated by radiation that leaves no trace in the product after the process, so it is completely safe at the time of consumption” , Said Horak.

“This is a cold method in which there is no heat transfer to the product, which makes a total difference, compared to traditional methods of sterilization or heat pasteurization.This makes the food does not lose or alter its original properties, Since it is also not taken out of its original packaging when subjected to the lightning process, “emphasized the graduate in Industrial Food Technology (UADE) and Magister in Biotechnology (UBA).
With respect to its use, Horak pointed out that ionizing radiations produce a variety of effects, such as: inhibition of buds, fungus and microbial insect and microbial decontamination (both banal and pathogenic), deworming, delayed maturation and senescence, And finally, the sterilization of food.

Ionization actively and directly counteracts the disadvantages

With respect to its use, Horak pointed out that ionizing radiations produce a variety of effects, such as: inhibition of buds, fungus and microbial insect and microbial decontamination (both banal and pathogenic), deworming, delayed maturation and senescence, And finally, the sterilization of food.

Ionization actively and directly prevents the problems caused by diseases transmitted by man by pathogens (ETA’s, for example: Escherichia, Lysterias, Campylobacteria, Salmonellas, Staphylococci, Clostridios).

According to the Ministry of Agroindustry of the Nation, new categories of irradiated foods such as bulbs, tubers and roots were added to the CAA; Fresh fruits and vegetables; Cereals and their flours, legumes, seeds, oilseeds, dried fruits; Dried vegetables and fruits, dried herbs and herbal teas; Edible fungi; Fish and shellfish; Poultry, beef, porcine, caprine, and dried animal foods.
The agency says that irradiation of food “is a simple and safe technology” consisting of the exposure of products to the energy emitted by a source of gamma radiation, so as to absorb a controlled amount of energy.

The new foods that can be irradiated from the new measure will be the tubers and roots; Fresh fruits and vegetables; Cereals and their flours, legumes, seeds, oilseeds, dried fruits; Dried vegetables and fruits, dried herbs and herbal teas; Edible fungi; Fish and shellfish; Poultry, beef, porcine, caprine, and dried animal foods.

Thus, after this process, fresh fish can go from 4 days in the refrigerator to 45 in the same fresh conditions. In the range of meat products (red and white) you can think of tripling or reach up to one year of conservation without a cold chain. With a combination of several technologies, for example: packaging, vacuum, pre-cooking, irradiation”.