Food irradiation is a food preservation method which is used in many countries, both in human and animal food manufacturing.
Treating food with irradiation results in large reduction in microbial contamination and insect pests.
It is also useful in slowing ripening of fruit and for inhibiting
sprouting of plant products.
In USA, the FDA regulates all aspects of irradiation, such as irradiation dose, product type, and labeling requirements.
The use of irradiation requires development of analytical methods capable to determine the irradiation status of wide variety of foods, in order to ensure that food is properly labeled, as well as to insure that products were properly handled during irradiation process.
Current FDA regulations allow a maximum absorbed dose of 50 kGy in animal feed, pet food, and treats that are irradiated to reduce microbial and insect pest contamination.
There are however, very few tests, with limited application, to quantify the actual dose used when irradiating animal food products.
Depending on the type of food, various methods are available to detect food irradiation.
For fatty foods, the major methods are based on chemical determination of compounds formed from the irradiation of lipids (hydrocarbons and 2-alkylcyclobutanones).
It is believed that 2-alkylcyclobutanones (2-ACBs) are formed in food only by irradiation, and they are considered as markers for detecting the irradiation in food.
Electron spin resonance (ESP) spectroscopy detects irradiation induced paramagnetic centers (e.g.
This method is applicable for detection of irradiated foods containing bone, cellulose or crystalline sugar.
Thermoluminescence is a method applicable to those foods from which a sufficient amount of silicate minerals can be isolated.
Photostimulated luminescence is a different method, which can be applied to detect irradiation of any food which contains mineral debris.
DNA comet assay can be used to detect irradiation of any food containing DNA, with several limitations.
Different microbiological methods are also available, but can only be used as a screening tool.The current funding opportunity is designed to develop analytical methods for detection and quantification of markers such as 2-ACB's in animal feeds and treats to help the FDA to determine and regulate the dose of irradiation that was used during production.
Eligibility is limited to domestic (U.S) applicants.