This form of preservation involves subjecting the food to a does of ionising radiation. It is an effective and safe method of extending shelf life. It destroys parasites, insects including eggs, bacteria, moulds and yeasts. However, microbial spores and toxins remain unaffected at the levels used. Food most commonly irradiated outside the UK include chicken, fish, prawns, onions, potatoes, spices and strawberries. Irradiation may be used as part of a continuous or batch process. (In the UK only spices may be subject to irradiation.)
Preservation using irradiation has the same limitations as many other preservation techniques. Vitamins may be destroyed and enzymes are not deactivated. Other disadvantages include the encouragement of oxidative rancidity in fatty foods, the possible production of free radials in food that stimulate a range of chemical reactions, and the softening of some fruit.
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