Geneva, Switzerland – The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has announced a new standard for food irradiation.
ISO says the new standard provides state-of-the-art requirements for food irradiation, which is commonly used to improve the quality and safety in food processing.
The standard, which is called ISO 14470:2011, Food irradiation – Requirements for the development, validation and routine control of the process of irradiation using ionizing radiation for the treatment of food, not only provides requirements, but also guidance for meeting them.
What is irradiation?
Food irradiation is the process where food is exposed to ionizing radiation in order to improve its safety and quality. It is intended for use only on food that has been produced under good manufacturing practice (GMP) principles.
The irradiation of food can be used for different purposes including control of pathogenic microorganisms and parasites, reduction of the number of spoilage microorganisms, inhibition of the sprouting of bulbs, tubers and root crops, extension of product shelf life or phytosanitary treatment.
ISO says the new standard aims to:
• Provide requirements for the irradiation of food consistent with current standards and practices;
• Provide directions for a technical agreement between the customer and the irradiator operator; and
• Establish a documentation system to support the controls on the food irradiation process.
Mariana Funes and Noelia Antonuccio, the leaders of the committee that developed the standard, say “it will contribute to confidence and transparency among the different stakeholders operating in the food sector and will help provide regulators and consumer representatives with improved information on products, enabling better choices.”
The new standard will benefit manufacturers, irradiation operators, regulators, customers and consumers.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency says food irradiation is not mandatory but food processors can use it for permitted applications. Currently, onions, potatoes, wheat, flour, whole wheat flour, and whole or ground spices and dehydrated seasonings are approved for irradiation and sale in Canada. Health Canada has also reviewed four proposed new uses of food irradiation (mangoes, poultry, shrimp and prawns, and ground beef).