Submitted to: Food Technology
Publication Type: Trade Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: December 4, 2007
Publication Date: March 1, 2008
Citation: Fan, X., Niemira, B.A., Prakash, A. 2008. Irradiation of Fresh and Fresh-Cut Fruits and Vegetables. Food Technology. 3:36-43. Technical Abstract: Consumption of fresh and fresh-cut fruits and vegetables in the USA has increased every year in the last decade. Unfortunately, the increasing consumption of fresh produce has been accompanied with an increase in the number of outbreaks and recalls due to contamination with human pathogens. Fresh fruits and vegetables carry the potential risk of contamination because they are generally grown in open fields with potential exposure to enteric pathogens from soil, irrigation water, manure, wildlife or other sources. Unlike meat and meat products to which a kill step (thermal treatment) is applied before being consumed, fresh produce is often consumed without cooking or other treatments that could eliminate pathogens that may be present. The recent Escherichia coli O157:H7 illness outbreaks and product recalls of spinach, lettuce and other leafy greens, most notably in 2006 and 2007, have gained much media attention and raised public concerns over produce safety. The fresh produce industry is in need of a kill step to ensure the safety of produce. Ionizing radiation is known to effectively eliminate human pathogens such as E. coli O157:H7 on fresh produce. This article reviews the latest knowledge about irradiation inactivation of human pathogens on/in fresh-cut produce and its impact on quality of irradiated produce. Also highlighted are the current developments in irradiation regulation and labeling, the challenge and opportunity for commercial application, and research needs.