Methods to preserve our foods has been a problem of mankind since we settled into groups and began to store our foods to eat at later times. As we stored our food to eat later, mankind often came back to collect his food only to find that microbes, which are ever-present, had already eaten it.

We know about expiration dates on foods and by now in the class, we understand that with microbes, it is a race between how fast one species grows against another. We eat the food before the microbes grow beyond a certain point (spoil the food with their waste by-products).

Some foods store for longer than others and depending on natural and some less than natural processes, we can extend the amount of time a food can be kept before microbes will take over and spoil the product. Keeping produce fresh for long periods of time has been a problem since one cannot treat fresh fruits and vegetables without altering the taste and texture.

A new and somewhat controversial method of food preservation, particularly produce, is gamma irradiation. This method uses high energy gamma radiation to treat food and has shown great promise in extending the shelf-life. Gamma irradiation is approved for use and does not show any ill effect on the produce itself.

Proponents of gamma irradiation claim that the method is safe, extends shelf life, and leaves no residue or otherwise dangerous chemicals on produce. Opponents argue the use of gamma irradiation is not safe, the facilities where produce is treated is not the proper place for this type of radiation to be released and exposure of the workers is likely.

Review Chapters 8 and 12 of your textbook on Microbial Metabolism and Modern Applications

Review these facts from theĀ FDA on Food Irradiation

In this forum, choose a side; pro or con for gamma irradiated food. Choose to defend the use of gamma radiation as safe to use and safe to consume foods. OR, choose to oppose the use and consumption of foods treated in this manner.