Food irradiation is used to prevent the growth of bacteria, insects, viruses in food. Radiation interferes with the ability of the DNA of the organism to replicate. Irradiation may slow sprouting in food. It can be used to delay the onset of ripening of various foods. Microorganisms that cause a food to spoil can no longer carry out their life functions leading to spoilage, thus irradiation can extend the shelf life of meats, fish and poultry. However, radiation can cause subtle changes to the chemicals within the food although the food itself doesn't become radioactive. Although these practices are deemed "safe" since their use in the 1950's, many critics feel that not enough research has been done for a long enough time to be absolutely certain of that.
Food Irradiation: Principles and Applications discusses such topics as:
-Radiation inactivation of microorganisms
-Disinfestation of stored grains, pulses, dried fruits, and nuts
-Irradiation as a quarantine treatment
-Irradiation of meat and poultry, fish and shellfish, fruits and vegetables, and tuber and bulb crops
-Radiation decontamination of spices, herbs, condiments, and other dried food ingredients
-Process control and dosimetry in food irradiation
To kill microbes that could spread diseases.
To enhance longetivity by killing microbes that bring about spoilage.
To reduce carcinogenesis.