BOSTON, Aug. 19 -- The vast majority of the scientific and medical community, including the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, agree that irradiation of food is a safe way to reduce or eliminate harmful bacteria. Despite this resounding endorsement, consumers have been slow to accept irradiated food products. Meanwhile, researchers continue to investigate the practice.
A two-day symposium, entitled "Food Irradiation and Packaging for Irradiated Food, " will examine several areas related to irradiation, including:
- Changes in meat flavor, color and smell
- Antioxidant increases in fruit juices
- Migration of components from packaging into food products
- New packaging materials used in irradiation
- Evaluation of packages containing irradiated meals for astronauts
- Irradiation's effects on items sent through the mail
The symposium, which includes presentations by scientists from Canada, France, Germany, Greece, Japan and the United States, is part of the weeklong meeting of the American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society.
- Dong Ahn, Ph.D., of Iowa State University will examine what happens to irradiated meat that causes off-odor, flavor and color changes. He will discuss the changes that are taking place and how to prevent or minimize them. (The paper on this research, AGFD 61, will be presented at 1:40 p.m., Monday, Aug. 19, at Marriott Copley Place, Salon C.)
- Sam Nablo, Ph.D., of Electron Processing Systems Inc. in North Billerica, Mass., will discuss a process that uses electron beam irradiation rather than chemical insecticides to kill insects and their eggs in stored products, like grains. Chemical insecticides can leave the eggs unharmed and allow them to mature inside your cereal box or flour canister. (The paper on this research, AGFD 62, will be presented at 2:10 p.m., Monday, Aug. 19, at Marriott Copley Place, Salon C.)
- Xuetong Fan, Ph.D., of the USDA's Eastern Regional Research Center in Wyndmoor, Penn., will report on a study that shows low-dose irradiation of fruit juices can actually increase the antioxidant power of the juices. He will discuss benefits and concerns of juice irradiation. (The paper on this research, AGFD 63, will be presented at 3:00 p.m., Monday, Aug. 19, at Marriott Copley Place, Salon C.)
- Charles Tumosa, Ph.D., of the Smithsonian Institution's Center for Material Research and Education in Suitland, Md., will discuss damaging chemical changes that take place in some irradiated items such as paper, photographs and slides, which can cause irreversible harm. Paper, for example, can become brittle, yellow and fall apart from simple handling. Tumosa says the Smithsonian and the National Archives are duplicating large amounts of mailed paper documents they have received that have been irradiated due to the recent anthrax scare in the Washington, D.C., area. (The paper on this research, AGFD 130, will be presented at 1:10 p.m., Tuesday, Aug. 20, at Marriott Copley Place, Salon D.)
- Kristina Paquette, Ph.D., of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's Office of Food Additive Safety in College Park, Md., will discuss FDA's past and present evaluation of packaging materials for irradiated food. Recent interest in meat irradiation has prompted manufacturers to submit several proposals to the FDA for new packaging materials for use during the irradiation of prepackaged food. (The paper on this research, AGFD 131, will be presented at 1:35 p.m., Tuesday, Aug. 20, at Marriott Copley Place, Salon D.)
- Vicki Loveridge, senior food technologist at the U.S. Army Soldier and Biological Chemical Command in Natick, Mass., has found significant losses in the seal strength of pouches used for high dose irradiation processing of meat entrees. The entrees are used for NASA's space food program, including the Space Shuttle and International Space Station, and the pouches must be "tough as a tank," according to Loveridge. (The paper on this research, AGFD 135, will be presented at 3:35 p.m., Tuesday, Aug. 20, at Marriott Copley Place, Salon D.)