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Food Irradiation and the Changing Climate

Producer: Joint FAO/IAEA Division of Nuclear Techniques in Food and Agriculture (NAFA)

Throughout history, insect pests have posed challenges by spreading diseases, damaging crops and affecting environments, causing damage of more than 70 billion dollars a year. With climate change, insects are moving into new areas and authorities must implement strict quarantine measures – even within countries. Initially used to ensure safety of high-value spices, fish and meat, food irradiation is increasingly used also on fresh fruits and vegetables to prevent the spread of invasive insects. And several countries provide irradiated food rations during natural disasters when hygiene and cold storage are disrupted. Food irradiation calls for shining beams of energy, such as X-rays, gamma rays or electron beams, onto food because it destroys bacteria that can cause food poisoning; it neutralizes insect pests in food consignments; it maintains food quality by destroying spoilage organisms or suppressing sprouting; and it protects packaged food from microbial and insect contamination.

The film is also available in ArabicFrench and Spanish.

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