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IDENTIFICATION OF IRRADIATED FOOD

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For some foodstuffs and food ingredients, irradiation enables the achievement of a greater hygienic safety and avoidance of chemical preservatives. Consumer confidence in irradiated food may be increased when there is clear evidence that the food irradiation treatment is being controlled and labelled. Proposals for European Community legislation are under discussion and this will require the availability of reliable methods to assess that food products are treated by irradiation and to control the trade of irradiated food in the Community. About 50 laboratories have been involved in assessing: deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) based methods; microbiological and biological methods; physical methods; chemical methods.

The following methods have been developed and tested:
a microbiological and a DNA method for screening large quantities of samples including spices, herbs, poultry meat;
a thermoluminescence method (TL) leading to a CEN protocol to detect irradiation of herbs, spices, shrimps;
an electron spin resonance (ESR) method leading to two CEN protocols (meat and fish bones, food collecting cellulose) but also applicable to dried fruits;
a gas phase chromatographic (GPC) method leading to two CEN protocols applicable to food containing lipids.
For some foodstuffs and food ingredients, irradiation enables the achievement of a greater hygienic safety and avoidance of chemical preservatives. Consumer confidence in irradiated food may be increased when there is clear evidence that the food irradiation treatment is being controlled and labelled. Because National Regulations differs, proposals for Community Legislation are under discussion. It covers only a limited number of food types. The correct application of Community Rules will require the availability of reliable methods to assess that food products are treated by irradiation and to control the trade of irradiated food in the Community. A concerted action involving some 50 laboratories of the EC and EFTA countries has been organised for a period of two years. It involves four group working on: DNA based methods, microbiological and biological methods, physical methods, chemical methods.

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Commissariat à l'Energie Atomique (CEA)
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Centre d'Études de Cadarache Sere-Ders
13108 Saint-Paul-lez-Durance
Frankreich

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