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Radiation Protection

What is food irradiation?

Food irradiation is a process that uses radiation to control pests (e.g., microbes and insects) in food and prevent spoilage. Food irradiation is similar to pasteurizing milk and canning fruits or vegetables as it can make food safer for consumption. Irradiation does not make the food radioactive, nor does it change the taste, texture, or appearance of the food. During irradiation, gamma rays, x-rays, or high-energy electrons pass through the food, destroying or inactivating bacteria and viruses that cause foodborne illness.

Irradiated food is considered safe by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the World Health Organization (WHO), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). FDA is responsible for the regulation of food irradiation. For more information, visit Food Irradiation: What You Need to Know on

Return to Frequent Questions about Radiation Protection.