Luvimina G. Lanuza, head of the Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Nuclear Research Institute’s (DOST-PNRI) Irradiation Services Section, assured the audience at a techno forum that irradiated foods are not radioactive, and are therefore safe to eat.

Lanuza was a speaker at a PNRI-organized forum titled “Radiation: May Benepisyo Ito!” held as one of the activities during the recent 2014 National Science and Technology Week (NSTW) of DOST which ran from July 24-28, 2014 at SMX Convention Center.

Tackling the subject of gamma irradiation technology, one of the applications of radiation technology, Lanuza said that food items do not become radioactive at energies used in irradiation. She added that there are no known toxicological, microbiological, or nutritional problems encountered in irradiated foods.

Irradiated foods are those intentionally processed with ionizing radiation to bring about desirable effects. On the other hand, radioactive foods are those accidentally contaminated with radioactive material.

This information is backed by decades of research. In fact, more extensive studies have been undertaken on food irradiation than any other type of food safety technology, Lanuza said.

“The irradiation of food is justified when it fulfils technological requirements and if it is beneficial for the protection of consumer health. It cannot be used to correct quality deficiencies and is not a substitute for GMP,” Lanuza emphasized.

Gamma processing, one of the technologies involved in radiation, uses gamma-rays from a Cobalt-60 source. It ensures precision and high penetrability of products even in their final packaged form, causes minimal rise in temperature, does not alter the product’s texture and freshness, leaves no chemical residue, and retains the product’s taste, color, and flavor.

Currently, there are 180 large-scale gamma irradiation facilities in 42 countries including the Philippines’ PNRI Multipurpose Irradiation Facility. (S&T Media Service)

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