Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Irradiating leafy greens

Find the link here to a story about irradiating leafy greens included in one of Doug Powell's recent Food Safety Network updates. From the story:

“The problem the leafy green industry faces is there is absolutely no kill step in the process of cleaning, rinsing and bagging the product. There is nothing they can do,” explained Peter Schoch, Rayfresh’s CEO. The potential for widespread contamination is compounded by the mingling of greens from different sources in processing plants, he said.

Food irradiation – which does not in any way render food radioactive – today uses gamma rays from radioactive material or machine-generated electron beams, Schoch said, both of which tend to cause cellular damage and visually degrade food. X-rays promise a gentler, more scalable solution. Rayfresh recently landed its first contract to build an X-ray machine to treat ground beef for Omaha Steaks, which inspected the prototype at MSU. The university’s validation work was pivotal in winning that first order, Schoch said.

“We also have very significant interest from people who produce and use food service lettuce,” he added, a product connected to a recent E. coli illness outbreak in Michigan and other states.

TK: Apparently Rayfresh uses a technology that doesn't require as much irradiation energy as competing methods, meaning it may be more adaptable to use at food manufacturing plants rather than special secure facilities. We'll follow with interest...

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