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Food Irradiation
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History of Food Irradiation

Food Irradiation

Food irradiation is not something new. However, it is being used more often and as a result is being more closely examined as a public health issue. Research on food irradiation began as early as 1905. Below is a chronological summary of major events in the progress and use of irradiation.

Chronology of Food Irradiation
Year Event
1905 Scientists receive patents for a food preservative process that uses ionizing radiation to kill bacteria in food.
1921 U.S. patent is granted for a process to kill Trichinella spiral is in meat by using X-ray technology.
1953-1980 The U.S. government forms the National Food Irradiation Program. Under this program, the U.S. Army and the Atomic Energy Commission sponsor many research projects on food irradiation.
1958 The Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act is amended and defines sources of radiation intended for use in processing food as a new food additive. Act administered by FDA.
1963 FDA approves irradiation to control insects in wheat and flour.
1964 FDA approves irradiation to inhibit sprouting in white potatoes.
1964-1968 The U.S. Army and the Atomic Energy Commission petition FDA to approve the irradiation of several packaging materials.
1966 The U.S. Army and USDA petition FDA to approve the irradiation of ham.
1971 FDA approves the irradiation of several packaging materials based in the 1964-68 petition by the U.S. Army and the Atomic Energy Commission.
1976 The U.S. Army contracts with commercial companies to study the wholesomeness of irradiated ham, pork, and chicken.
1980 USDA inherits the U.S. Army's food irradiation program.
1985 FDA approves irradiation at specific doses to control Trichinella spiral is in pork.
1986

FDA approves irradiation at specific doses to delay maturation, inhibit growth, and disinfect foods, including vegetables and spices.

The Federal Meat Inspection Act is amended to permit gamma radiation to control Trichinella spiral is in fresh or previously frozen pork. Law is administered by USDA.

1990 FDA approves irradiation for poultry to control salmonella and other food-borne bacteria.
1992 USDA approves irradiation for poultry to control salmonella and other food-borne bacteria.
1997 FDA's regulations are amended to permit ionizing radiation to treat refrigerated or frozen uncooked meat, meat by products, and certain food products to control food-borne pathogens and to extend shelf life.
2000

USDA's regulations are amended to allow the irradiation of refrigerated and frozen uncooked meat, meat by products, and certain other meat food products to reduce the levels of food-borne pathogens and to extend shelf life.

FDA's regulations are amended to permit the irradiation of fresh shell eggs to control salmonella.

Source United States General Accounting Office

 


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