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Applications of Irradiation Technology in

INDIA

FOOD PRESERVATION PROGRAMME

The Programme was launched in 1994.


Approved by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the World
Health Organization (WHO), the International Atomic Energy Agency
(IAEA) and the Codex Alimentarius Commission.
Approved more than 20 commodities to be processed using this method.
AIMS

Preventing microbial contamination.


Extending shelf-life under recommended conditions of storage.
Overcoming quarantine barriers in international trade.

IRRADIATION & CONVANTIONAL METHOD

Conventional methods: Canning, dehydration, salting, cold storage,


fumigation, etc.
Negative aspects: These lead to loss of flavour, odor, texture and other
highly desirable attributes of fresh foods.
Irradiation: It has unique merits over conventional methods of preservation
because this process does lead to above negative aspects.

Food Preservation by Irradiation in India

Basis to fix the doses:


Low-dose applications (less than one kGy) lead to the disinfestation of
insects in stored grain, pulses and food products, and the destruction of
parasites in meat and meat products.
A medium dose (one to ten kGy) eliminates microbes in fresh fruits, meat
and poultry products, destroys food pathogens in meat, and helps in the
hygienisation of spices and herbs.
A high dose (above 10 kGy) produces shelf-stable foods without resort to
refrigeration, and the sterilization of food for special requirements.

Low dose applications


Sprout inhibition
in bulbs & tubers

0.3 - 0.15 KGy

Delayed ripening
of fruits

0.25 - 0.75 KGy

Disinfestation of insects including


quartine & elimination of food
parasites

0.25 - 1 KGy

Medium dose applications

Reduction of spoilage microbes to


improve shelf life of meat, poultry &
sea food under refrigeration

1.5 3 KGy

Elimination of pathogenic microbes


in fresh & frozen meat, poultry &
sea food

3 7 KGy

Reducing no. of micro organisms in


spices to improve hygienic quality.

10 KGy

High dose applications


Sterilization of packaged meat
poultry & their products which are
shelf stable without refrigeration

20 - 70 KGy

Sterilization of hospital diets

20 - 70 KGy

Food Irradiation in India- Applications


Delayed ripening of fruits
This has improved the scope for internal trade and augments export of these
commercially important fruits of India.
Studies are being carried out to eliminate the seed weevil, an insect that
lodges deep inside the stone of the mango. This can be a satisfactory
solution to vexing quarantine problem.
Shelf life of mangoes has been extended by about a week.
That of bananas up to two weeks.
Disinfestation of grains
Food grain production in India
The worlds worst recorded food disaster in 1943 in British-ruled India- 4
millions dead
Success of Green Revolution (1967-1978)
Food grains production of INDIA
1978-79, 131 million tons
1990-91, 190 million tons
2001-02, 212 million tons
Food grain preservation in India- some facts
Inadequate storage facilities lead to losses, (10-15%) due to insects, pests
alone.
With progressive increase in the quantity of food grains and necessity for
longer storage periods, these losses are escalating.
This necessitates develop / adopt suitable disinfestation measures.

Chemical disinfestations methods, such as fumigation, require repeated


application, as these do not eliminate insect eggs.
They may also leave harmful residues in the treated grains
A single radiation exposure of grains has been found sufficient for
disinfestations.
Apart from grains, certain pre-packed cereal products such as flour, soji
(broken wheat) and premixes are potent candidates
Preservation of sea foods
Fish is available in plenty all along the long sea coasts of India
Conventional preservation facilities are not able cope with the rapid spoilage
of the catch and thereby limit the availability of seafood in the interior
regions
By selective destruction of spoilage bacteria, moderate doses (200 kilorads)
of radiation have extended the acceptability, and, in turn, marketability of
iced fish by about two weeks

Microbial decontamination of spices


Spice export trade is always faced with stringent quality requirements
relating to insect infestation and microbial contamination.
Fumigation of spices with chemicals such as methyl bromide, ethylene oxide
and propylene oxide, has inherent disadvantages, especially retention of
chemical residues.
Single treatment of gamma radiation can make spices free of insect infection
and microbial contamination without the loss of flavour components.
The treatment can also be used for pre-packed ground spices and curry
powders.

Cost of Irradiated Food


From Re 0.25 to 0.50 per kg. for a low dose application such as sprout
inhibition of potato and onion and insect disinfestations in cereals and
pulses.
Rs 1-3 per kg for high dose application such as treatment of spices for
microbial decontamination.
The cost could be brought down in a multipurpose
facility treating a
variety of products around the year.
The cost of plant could be between Rs 50-100 millions.
[US$= Rs 45; 1Re= 100 paise]

Technology/assistance available

Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC)

Bhabha Atomic Research Center (BARC) is back-bone of Indian


programme.
Research reactors, which routinely produce radio isotopes are Apsara, Cirus,
Purnima, Dhruva, FBTR and Kamini.
Nodal agency- assistance and guidance; information on availability, cost and
possible alternative of essential/critical machinery, pollution and other
environmental aspects, utilization/disposal of radioisotopes. Guidance on
legal and regulatory aspects, techno-economic advantages, project
configuration, financing and other relevant aspects, can also be obtained
from them.
Standardization of dosimeter procedure and carrying out of dosimeter.
Training to the staff on one of the existing plant on various aspects of
operation and safety.

Board of Radiation and Isotope Technology (BRIT)


Technological inputs and guidance for formulation of irradiation projects.
Centre for Advanced Technology for training on electron radiation and has
the capacity to set up the irradiation processing plant totally indigenously.

Ministry of Food Processing Industries (MFPI)


To promote the commercial use of technology in India.
Development of Infrastructure facilities- financial assistance in the form of a
loan is provided to private sector organisation to the extent of 50% of the
cost of capital equipment and technical civil works up to Rs.5 millions in
general areas and up to Rs.7.5 millions in difficult areas.
Financial assistance in the form of grant is provided to the entrepreneurs up
to Rs.40 millions for creation of common facility in a food park.
REGULATIONS
The Atomic Energy (Control of Irradiation of Foods) Rules, 1996.
The Prevention of Food Adulteration (Fifth Amendment) Rules, 1994.
Other rules and notifications issued from time to time are the applicable
rules for commercial.
REGULATORY BODIES
The Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), and The Atomic Energy
Regulatory Board (AERB)
Firstly the inspectors from AERB ensure that the installation satisfies all the
prescribed safety requirements
AERB issues a certificate of approval
DAE licenses the irradiator
STATUS
So far the DAE has licensed four irradiation facilities.
More facilities are being planned in the near future.
The AERB is empowered to withdraw the certificate of approval.

PLANTS
A prototype commercial demonstration irradiator with an initial throughput
of 20 tons per day for treatment of spices is at Vashi, Navi Mumbai.
Another prototype demonstration irradiator for onions and potatoes is
located in Nasik.
Facilities licensed for irradiating food items Food Package Irradiator in Food Technology Division, BARC.
Defense Laboratory, Jodhpur.
These authorized facilities are now available for irradiation of limited food
items for market tests and survey of consumer response.

Food items approved for radiation preservation by the Ministry of


Health & Family Welfare under Prevention of Food Adulteration Rules,
1955
NAME OF
FOOD
Onion
Potato
Ginger
Garlic
Mango
Rice,
Semolina,
Wheat flour,
Maida
Meat & meat
products,
Rasins , Figs,
Dried Dates
Spices

PURPOSE

Sprout inhibition

Disinfestation
(Quartine)

MINIMUM
DOSE (KGy)

MAXIMUM
DOSE (KGy)

0.03
0.06
0.03
0.03

0.09
0.15
0.15
0.15

0.25

0.75

0.25
0.25

1.0
1.0

0.25

0.75

2.5

4.0

6.0

14.0

Disinfestation

Shelf life
enhancement &
pathogen control
Microbial
decontamination

Additional food items recommended by the Central Committee for Food


Standards for approval
NAME OF
FOOD
Pulses & Dried
Sea food
Fresh sea food

Frozen sea food

PURPOSE

MINIMUM
DOSE (KGy)

MAXIMUM
DOSE (KGy)

Disinfestation

0.25

1.0

Shelf life
enhancement

1.0

3.0

pathogen control

4.0

6.0

Consumer Responses and Opposition


Effects on humans of the consumption (particularly long term) of "unique
radiolytic products" (URPs)?
Lethal effects have been found from the feeding of irradiated food to mice
(though other studies failed to confirm this).
Some animals fed irradiated food have been found to have reduced growth,
change white blood cells, and kidney damage.
Two studies in the US raised questions about the safety of irradiated
chicken.
Polyploidy - a chromosome defect - has been observed in children, monkeys,
rats fed irradiated wheat, and in hamsters fed an irradiated diet.
Consumer Opposition
Use of irradiation will allow for "dirty" meat, poultry, or produce to be
processed and sold to consumers.
Irradiating microorganisms such as E. coli and Salmonella may give rise to
even more dangerous, radiation-resistant strains of bacteria.
Over-irradiation
Case studies
Indian clinical study- A clinical study in India (American Journal of Clinical
Nutrition, 1975), looked at 15 malnourished children who were fed either
irradiated or non-irradiated food. Eighty percent of the children fed
irradiated food developed a pre-cancerous chromosomal disorder called
polyploidy.
Chinese study- A more recent study on 70 students in China (Chinese
Medical Journal, 1987) also showed an increased rate of chromosomal
abnormalities.

CONCLUSION

BARC process on food irradiation below and above 10 kGy is well


understood and established.
It follows safety and nutritional adequacy of foods irradiated and produced
under Good Manufacturing Practice.
Food preservation by irradiation appears a potential way to control or
minimize food grains loss due to insects and pests.
Irradiation is established as a versatile, environmentally-friendly treatment
of foods for sanitary, phytosanitary and shelf-life extension purposes that
can contribute to better food safety, phytosanitary and food security, to
reduced use of chemical treatments and to increased trade- this needs to be
explained to the common consumer at large.
Scientists, public health officials, non-governmental consumer
organizations, policy planners, media personnels, government officials, etc
should ensure that factual information about food irradiation as and when
generated is presented in right perspectives to the consumer.
Experimental trials of irradiated foods in the areas prone food borne disease
could be useful in order to provide evidence for the usefulness of irradiation
on controlling such disease incidence.
For specific commercial needs or to improve the effectiveness of those
already developed, R&D efforts must be sustained.