Testing for irradiated foods
Honours research projects that combine physics and food science are available to improve methodologies to detect irradiated food by optically-stimulated luminescence.
Irradiation of foods is allowed in particular circumstances. Food Irradiation Testing (FIT) has three principal applications:
- monitoring of products to ensure compliance with irradiation orders;
- detection of irradiation used to mask spoilage on foodstuffs, and
- certification of non-irradiation for export market access.
A recent project between researchers in the schools of Agriculture, Food and Wine and Physical Sciences has demonstrated the capability for the Prescott Environmental Luminescence Laboratory (PELL) to conduct FIT.
Optically-Stimulated Luminescence (OSL) was used on a wide range of food samples that were split into four portions and given a range of gamma ray doses up to 20,000 Gy. Results showing a dose-dependent relationship to irradiation were detected in many, but not all, food items.
Questions remain about the optimal sample storage and preparation protocols so that more foods can be analysed.