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Food Irradiation

Why irradiate food?

Raw meat can contain bacteria that make you ill.  Fruit and vegetables from tropical countries may have flies or other insects in them.  One way of treating food is to heat it but if you want to keep the food raw this isn't an option.

Irradiation is a way of killing insects, bacteria and other microbes without having to heat the food or handle it too much.

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Are there any health risks?

There's absolutely no danger that the food will become radioactive.

However at very high doses some vitamins can be destroyed.  Nuclear radiation can also cause chemical reactions whose products might be harmful.

The public in general doesn't like to think their food has been irradiated.  But the health risks involve chemistry and biology rather than nuclear radiation.

back to Lesson 1: Why Study Radioactivity