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Figure 4. Schematic representation of dose response curves for inactivation of viability or other functionality in various biological systems. Differential dose response underlies the benefits of food irradiation.

tion) are less restrictive in this regard than others (eg, maturation delay).

Tangible Benefits for the Consumer. To the consumer, irradiation offers the benefits of food that is safer, fresher, more convenient, and therefore of higher value than the unirradiated counterpart. Of course these tangible consumer benefits derive from the specific technical end points just listed.

Limitations

As is the case with any food processing method, there can be detriments as well as benefits arising from irradiation. Negative effects of the radiation processing of food can include undesirable alteration of sensory properties (color, odor, taste, texture), loss of desired functional properties, and loss of some nutrient value. These negative effects tend to increase with increasing dose. To have a successful treatment, it is essential that unacceptable levels of detriment be avoided.

Avoidance of Detrimental Effects. To ensure a favorable result, irradiation must be carried out according to a proper treatment protocol, which has been validated by empirical testing. As with any processing method, improper application of the process will generally lead to unacceptable results. A treatment protocol is simply a 'recipe' wherein the process variables affecting the outcome are controlled within an appropriate range. Every product requires its own treatment protocol. In this sense irradiation is no different than conventional baking or cooking, which is done according to a proven recipe. There are many proven treatment protocols available, but there is ample opportunity for further development in this area.

benefits (4). These include microbial inactivation, insect disinfestation, sprout inhibition, maturation delay, and functional modification (eg, viscosity reduction, accelerated rehydration of dried preparations, reduced cooking time). Particular beneficial effects are associated with particular foods, and their achievement requires that an appropriate treatment protocol be followed. Only certain foods can be treated beneficially for any particular desired technical end point. It is generally not possible to elicit arbitrarily specified benefits in arbitrarily chosen foods, although some technical end points (eg, microbial inactiva-

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