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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Reduction of Toxic and Undesirable Chemical Compounds in Food by Ionizing Irradiation

item Fan, Xuetong

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: December 1, 2005
Publication Date: February 15, 2006
Citation: Fan, X. 2006. Reduction of toxic and undesirable chemical compounds in food by ionizing irradiation. 231st ACS National Meeting. March 26-30, 2006. Atlanta, GA. Abstract# AGFD 190, p. 20.

Technical Abstract: Possible toxic and carcinogenic chemicals such as furan, acrylamide, nitrosamines, biogenic amines, and mycotoxins (aflatoxin B1, patulin, fumonisin, etc.) can accumulate in various foods during thermal processing, preservation and storage. Recent studies have suggested that irradiation reduces levels of these toxic compounds in many foods. In aqueous solutions, irradiation can completely destroy these compounds at doses of 1-5 kGy. However, in most foods where food components compete with free radicals generated from radiolysis of water, the reductions were much less at those doses. Often, significant reductions of these compounds are only realized when high doses (5 kGy or above) are employed. The lower levels of mycotoxins and biogenic amines after storage may also be related to the irradiation inactivation of microorganisms that produce those compounds. On the other hand, high doses of irradiation can alter characteristic sensory properties and reduce nutritional quality of some foods. For compounds like furan, high doses of irradiation can increase its levels in carbohydrates- and ascorbate acid- rich foods when the rate of furan formation exceeds the degradation rate. Factors affecting the efficacy of irradiation in the reduction of toxic compounds include initial concentrations of these compounds, water content, food composition, and packaging conditions. In addition, irradiation has a potential to reduce antinutritional compounds such as allergens and phytic acid and increase antioxidant capacity of many foods. It is unlikely that irradiation will be applied solely for the purpose of reduction in toxic compounds because of its limited effectiveness in most foods. However, irradiation can potentially reduce toxic and undesirable compounds in various foods when used for the well-known benefits of improving microbial food safety and extending shelf life.

Last Modified: 1/26/2015
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