In the past, one of the greatest killers of humans has been the quality of the food that was eaten. Food that was laden with germs and bacteria could cause illnesses that medical science at the time could not cure. With advances in technology that can guarantee sterility, food irradiation has become a great debate. Some forms of food irradiation have been in use for several years. With an expansion of food irradiation approved in the United States, it has become important to weigh the pros and cons of this practice.
What Are the Pros of Food Irradiation?
1. The primary benefit of food irradiation is better safety.
When food has been irradiated, it no longer contains any of the harmful bacteria or diseases that can cause discomfort, illness, or even fatalities. If there are any contaminants within the food, they will be eliminated.
2. It extends the shelf life of food.
Food that has been irradiated is able to store for longer period of time. This means that there is less waste that can occur in any given household. Because no radiation is left behind from the process, it is considered a safe and effective form of food processing. This means that the practice has been approved in 40 countries around the world.
3. It decreases the need for pesticides.
Because higher doses of ionizing radiation can help to kill mold, insects, and other higher-level pathogens, food irradiation makes it possible to reduce the amount of pesticides that are used to create the food in the first place.
4. Preservatives are not needed as often.
Many foods have preservatives added to them so that their shelf life can be extended. These preservatives are usually chemically based. Food irradiation allows for a more natural food product that has a longer shelf life.
What Are the Cons of Food Irradiation?
1. Not all foods can be irradiated.
Dairy products in particular cannot go through the food irradiation process. This is because the practice of irradiation actually changes the texture and the flavor of the food product. Eggs are also included on this list of products that cannot be irradiated.
2. It can alter the nutritional content of food.
B vitamins are the most susceptible to the food in irradiation process. It is similar to the effect that is received when certain foods are either preserved or cooked in more traditional methods. The problem is that irradiated food is then cooked in those traditional methods and that can lose even more of the foods nutritional content.
3. It might not kill everything.
We assume that food irradiation creates safer food products and this is mostly true. There is always the possibility that something can survive the process because of improper procedures and so someone assuming that a food is safe will eat it and then experience an unanticipated illness.
Is irradiation the right practice? Many countries believe it is safe, and most people in the developed world have been eating irradiated food for several years and may not know it. By weighing the pros and cons of the subject, we can each decide whether the practice of food irradiation is right for our personal nutrition.