Food irradiation is a processing method which exposes the food to high-energy electromagnetic waves. It was primarily used for the longest period of time to sterilize hospital equipment, wine bottle corks, and cosmetics. In the last two decades of the 20th century, growing concern over losing large volumes of food to insects, molds, and sprouting, led to an increased interest in food irradiation. Currently, irradiation is approved in over 40 countries, including the U.S., for different food products.
Irradiation produces radiolytic products (breakdown products of molecules). Since these breakdown products are not originally present in food, irradiation is considered to be a Food Additive. However, consumer perception did not help the irradiated food markets grow. The common questions are 1. Is the food exposed to nuclear radiation? 2. Does the food contain radioactive material? 3. Will eating this cause genetic changes in humans? 4. How much of the food is damaged?
The Prompt: What You Need to Do
Research and understand the scientific reasons behind HOW food is irradiated (the actual process) and WHY irradiation works. What are the by-products of irradiation and are these by-products harmful? What symbols do you see on the foods that are irradiated? What are the requirements for labeling? What are the options for people who want to avoid irradiated foods?
Use scientific journal articles to understand and come to your own conclusions regarding the merits and/ or weaknesses of irradiation of food. How to find resources for discussion walks you through the process of finding peer reviewed articles for research. Please do not do google search. In your discussion, cite your sources.
Details and Requirements: How to Get the Full Grade for This Discussion
Discussion Statement: Food irradiation is an effective and safe treatment for certain food items such as fruits, grains, meats, spices, and imported foods.
Pick a side and argue FOR or AGAINST this statement. (You must choose a ‘side,’ even if you are personally ‘neutral’ on the subject.) Your arguments should be scientifically based with appropriate citations. In making your case take into account the following:
List at least three (3) reasons why or why not, food irradiation is an effective and safe treatment for all or certain products.
Explain how the consumer would know whether a food product is irradiated (What symbols on packaging are you looking for?).
Knowing what you have researched, are there specific products or categories of products that make good or bad candidates for irradiation. Explain why or why not.
Cite your sources (APA format). Use scientific journal articles – check out the resources module for how to find articles for discussion posts.
Respond to one or more of your classmates with an opposing point of view to further the discussion.
See the rubric for more detailed grading criteria (discussion rubric is in the resources module).