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IAEA, France’s Aerial to Enhance Collaboration on Radiation Processing and Food Irradiation

Aerial Experts undertaking tests to verify that X ray irradiation of mango fruits can achieve the minimum dose required for the correct phytosanitary treatment (left and centre). Dose map (right) shows the variation of absorbed dose. (Photos: Aerial)

Experts at Aerial undertaking tests to verify that X ray irradiation of mango fruits can achieve the minimum dose required for the correct phytosanitary treatment in all parts of the palletized fruits (left and centre). The dose map (right) illustrates the variation of absorbed dose. (Photos: Aerial)

The IAEA and the French technology resource centre Aerial have agreed to increase joint work on food irradiation, a technique used in over 60 countries to destroy disease-causing bacteria and to reduce the risk of food borne illnesses, without changing the temperature or leaving residues.

The not-for-profit, technical institute for food industry Aerial has now been redesignated as an IAEA Collaborating Centre for multidisciplinary applications of electron beam and X ray technologies and related dosimetry for radiation processing and food irradiation.

“Aerial has proven its excellence as a strong partner,” said Najat Mokhtar, IAEA Deputy Director General and Head of the Department of Nuclear Sciences and Applications, at the event marking the redesignation. “Our renewed partnership will continue to help innovate and transfer peaceful nuclear science and technology to many countries of the world.”

Since its designation in 2016, Aerial has diligently responded to IAEA requests for support both in research and innovation as well as in the transfer of skills and knowhow through technical cooperation. Achievements of past collaboration include new and improved dosimetry techniques and practices, studies into food irradiation using low energy beams, work on the detection of irradiated food and evaluations of foods irradiated with high energy X rays, radiation processing and cryogenic applications.

“This re-designation of AERIAL contributes to strengthening the already close collaboration between France and the IAEA in the fields of radiation processing and food irradiation,” said Jean-Louis Falconi, Governor of France at the IAEA Board of Governors. “More broadly, it underlines the importance that France attaches to the peaceful uses of atomic energy.”

Alain Strasser, Director of the institute based in Illkirch, near Strasbourg, emphasized that their model of technology resources centres combined the cultures of both research and industry. “With that powerful combination and based on our competencies in high dose dosimetry, we have prepared an ambitious and multidisciplinary work programme with the IAEA for the next few years,” he added.

Having received 10 million Euros from local and national partners, Aerial has completed its Faisceau d’Electrons Et Rayonnement Ionisants X (FEERIX) project to extend its capabilities. This included constructing a new facility specifically designed for research, innovation and training activities using a state-of-the-art rhodotron electron accelerator with two beam lines that can operate at high energies of up to 10 MeV for electrons and 5 or 7 MV for X rays. The institute’s full suite of four irradiation facilities that span low, medium and high energy beam irradiation can be used to support both food and non-food activities to reinforce its capabilities for research, training and technology transfer to IAEA Member States in radiation processing.

In addition to offering its technical expertise for publications and scientific journals, lectures and presentations at technical meetings and conferences, Aerial has worked closely with the Joint FAO/IAEA Centre of Nuclear Techniques in Food and Agriculture on many occasions.

These include providing advice to several IAEA coordinated research projects; hosting scientific visits and IAEA-sponsored fellowships; undertaking IAEA expert missions to assist institutions in several countries; performing dosimetry inter-comparison exercises for IAEA Member States; providing training on dosimetry for both food and non-food radiation processing; undertaking original research on the safety and potential of high energy X ray irradiation of food to support extending international standards; hosting the International Meeting on Radiation Processing (IMRP19) and the first International Food Irradiation Symposium, organized in collaboration with the IAEA and the industry; as well as engaging with the food industry, the radiation processing industry and the European Commission on the need for new European Union food irradiation directives.

IAEA Collaborating Centres

Collaborating Centres are scientific institutions that work together with the IAEA by undertaking original research and development and training relating to nuclear science, technologies and their safe and secure applications. There are currently 58 active IAEA Collaborating Centres in 36 countries working on helping Member States reach the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

IAEA Deputy Director General Najat Mokhtar (left) and Jean-Louis Falconi, Governor of France at the IAEA Board of Governors, at the redesignation event of Aerial as an IAEA Collaborating Centre, Vienna, 7 March 2022. (Photo: G.Hinterleitner/IAEA)

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