Electron accelerator increases fourfold the best before date of food
Canned fish does not undergo heat treatment, so manufacturers solve the problem of short best before date by adding chemical preservatives and salt.
There is some good news in the field of food security. Russian nuclear physicists processed preserves at the electron accelerator ILU-10. It turns out that at parameters from 3 to 6 kGy, the level of product microbiological contamination decreases by 99.9%, and its taste and physicochemical parameters are the same. As a result, the shelf life increased from 10 to 45 days.
Experiments were carried out in the Budker Institute of Nuclear Physics (BINP) and involved specialists from the All-Russian Research Institute of Radiology and Agroecology and Novosibirsk State University (NSU).
In the ILU-10 electrons are accelerated to high energies, so it allows them to penetrate into a medium with a density equal to the density of water to a depth of up to 2.5 cm. There is ionization that leads to damage to intracellular structures and subsequent death of microorganisms. From the chemical point of view, the products of radiolysis are not different from the heat treatment products. Beyond that, the electron energy in the accelerator is less than 10 MeV, therefore the emergence of any radioactive isotopes in the food is excluded.
At the next stage, scientists intend to deal with the irradiation of products packed in hermetically sealed containers. It is believed that the electron-beam treatment will work effectively. «The presence of packaging is of fundamental importance for methods of radiation sterilization, since contact of the irradiated product with the external environment levels the antimicrobial effect achieved. The huge area of application of radiation treatment of packaged products is military rations, food for astronauts, dietary products for patients with reduced immunity and many others», Vladimir Kobyalko, Ph.D, Biology, explained.
However, the ionizing radiation technology has not yet entered the market because of the absence of industrial centers for radiation treatment. Experts say that radiophobia is another important reason that slows down the process.
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