Monday, October 10, 2011

Irradiation of food: Early History

The early history of food irradiation in 1890s to 1940s is inseparable linked to they of radiation physics and to the development of the system and sources to be used in food irradiation.

This was followed by a period of intensive research and development in 1940s to 1970s that overlapped with extensive studies on the wholesomeness of irradiated foods in 1970s.

The discovery of x-rays by Roentgen on 1895 and radioactive substances by French physicist Antoine-Henri Becquerel in 1896 was the date when food irradiation began.

Soon thereafter, Samuel Prescott, a biology professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts, demonstrated that bacteria in food could be killed with gamma rays from radium.

Following the discoveries there was much research examining the effects of these radiations on biological organisms.

The first patent on the proposition to apply ionizing to kill bacteria in foods was issued in the UK to Appleby and Banks in 1905.

The finding the ionizing radiation could destroy bacteria occurred in 1904, and the technology was evaluated as early as 1921 for destroying trichinae in pork.

However, radiation sources strong enough for industrial exploitation were not available before the 1950s.

However in the early 1950s, the US government became involve in the development of food irradiation and funded related research. The Atomic Energy Commission started sponsoring programs in 1950, followed by the IS Army in 1953.

The worldwide first food irradiation facilities became operational in Germany in 1957 for spices, but had to dismantled in 1959 when Germany banned food irradiation.
Irradiation of food: Early History