Food Irradiation: Microbiological, Nutritional, and Functional Assessment
The Food and Agriculture Organization, the International Atomic Energy Agency, and the World Health Organization have become closely involved with the issue of food irradiation, since several aspects of this technology fall within their operating mandates. The goal of food irradiation is the destruction of certain microorganisms, specifically those causing food spoilage and human diseases. Fundamental research in radiation biology and applied research beyond the enhancement of hygiene and the reduction of food losses have contributed to the present knowledge. Foods are complex mixtures of chemical compounds whose primary role is to provide sufficient nutrients to meet the nutritional requirements of the human body. Macronutrients are the most important factors in the functional properties of foods, such as viscosity, foaming, emulsification, and gelling capacities. Fumigation with methyl bromide and ethylene oxide are also used as disinfestation and microbiological control methods, but restrictive legislation is being applied.