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FOOD Pasteurization "Cold Pasteurization"!

SureBeam Middle East commissioned the first facility of its kind in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia that uses ordinary electricity in form of ionizing energy to  food to kill harmful microorganisms that threaten us and our food supply. Sometimes it is referred to as "cold pasteurization". This process can enhance the safety of foods such as poultry, meat, chicken, and seafood, at the same time it increases the shelf life by reducing spoilage-causing microbes.

What is food Irradiation?

Food Irradiation is the treatment of food by a certain type of low energy radiation. The process destroys insects, molds, fungi, and pathogens that causes food-borne diseases or food spoilage. Food irradiation involves exposing the food to a carefully controlled amount of ionizing radiation for an effective period of time. irradiation makes food safer and spoilage resistance without compromising taste, texture, aroma, or nutritional values.

Why are we interested in food irradiation?

    1. Control food-borne diseases affecting people, pets and livestock.
   2. Reduce high losses from infection, contamination, and spoilage.
   3. Lessen restrictful regulations and prohibition of food chemical treatments.
   4. Reduce international trade barriers.
   5. Extend shelf life.

What benefits are gained from irradiating foods?

1. Reduction of food-borne illnesses

The most significant public health benefit of food irradiation is that it stops the spread of food-borne disease. it greatly reduces or eliminates the number of disease-causing bacteria and other harmful organisms that threaten us and our food supply. Many of these organisms, including Salmonella, Escherichia coil 0157:H7, Staphylococcus aureus, Camylobacter jejuni and Toxoplasma gondi have caused many outbreaks of food borne illness. When food is irradiated, the penetrating energy breaks down DNA molecules of the harmful microorganisms. The food is left virtually uncharged, except that it is much safer because the number of harmful microorganisms is greatly reduced or eliminated.

   2. Disinfestation

Application of 1kGy or less can control insects in dates, grains and fruits. Beetles, moths, weevils, and fruit flies cause extensive damage to stores dates, grain, grain products, and fresh fruit. Irradiation makes the foods free from widely used and possibly dangerous insect control fumigants such as ethylene dibromid, methyl bromide, and phosphine.

   3. Decontamination

Spices, herbs, and vegetable seasonings are often contaminated with microorganisms. Traditional treatment by certain chemicals can cause loss of flavor and aroma, and be potentially harmful to human health. Irradiation is ideal for decontamination purposes.

A very low radiation dose of 0.15 kGy or less inhibits sprouting of potatoes, yams, Onions, garlic, ginger, and chestnuts Irradiation could make these products available year around at a low cost and free from chemical sprout inhibitors Though foods are currently treated with the chemicals, no labeling that discloses pretreatment is required for Consumers.

   4. Spoilage and economics impact

We eat more fresh fruit and vegetables from a wider market than ever before. Developing countries often have less advanced food hygiene and basic sanitation. The use of polluted irrigation water and untreated organic fertilizers is common. It is not surprising that food becomes contaminated. The costs of such contamination can be huge in terms of human suffering, healthcare expenditure, product recall, loss of consumer confidence, legal pursuits and damage to international trade and tourism.  At least 25% of world food production is lost after harvesting. In developing countries, where climatic conditions hasten deterioration of stored produce, losses of vegetables and fruits can be up to 50%. Current treatments designed to prevent spoilage include the use of fumigants, chemical washes and pesticides. These are surface treatments that can leave chemical residues on the skins. Some of these are potentially harmful and importing countries, including the USA, Japan and many in Europe, have banned the use of several common fumigants such as ethylene dibromide, ethylene dichloride and ethylene oxide. The remaining fumigant most widely used, methyl bromide (MeBr), is highly ozone depleting. Under the Montreal Protocol for environmental protection MeBr is to be phased-out in advanced countries by 2005 and in developing countries by 2015.

   5. Extension of shelf life

Irradiation can also help keep meat, poultry, and seafood fresh longer by reducing the level of spoilage-causing microbes. It also allows producers and consumers to keep fruits and vegetables fresh longer. For example, irradiated potatoes and onions stay unspoiled free from sprouting up to several months versus few weeks that are untreated.

E-Beam Food Irradiation Advantages

The safety, quality and stability of many foods can be preserved through irradiation, reducing losses to producers, improving stability for suppliers and reducing health risks to consumers. Specific benefits arising from irradiation include:

How does it work?

Food irradiation describes the process of using ionizing radiation to kill harmful, spoilage micro-organisms, and to prevent germination and sprouting. Radiation is all around us. TV and radio signals, visible light and heat are all forms of radiation. Along with gamma and X-rays they are part of the electromagnetic spectrum. From the perspective of physics, the principal difference between them is the energy they contain. Ionizing radiation, used in food irradiation, has enough energy to knock electrons out of the atoms within molecules, ionizing them. This denatures the molecules that are necessary for the survival and growth of living cells i.e. DNA, cell membranes and enzymes. In this way irradiation kills “food poisoning” pathogenic micro-organisms, spoilage organisms and prevents plant cells from sprouting.

How does irradiation compare with pasteurization?

The effects of irradiation and pasteurization are similar. Both can kill micro-organisms, although some heat resistant micro-organisms can survive the pasteurization process and some simple micro-organisms are resistant to low doses of radiation. Both processes affect food molecules as well as the molecules of living cells. However, ionizing radiation is much more damaging to the rapidly multiplying cells of living pathogens and the cells involved in ripening and sprouting processes. Consequently, irradiation allows food products to be ‘cold pasteurized’ and have their shelf-life increased without suffering significant change to the chemical composition, nutritional value, taste or appearance of the fresh product.

The appeal of using ionizing radiation is that it can pasteurize fresh or frozen food, wrapped and packaged ready for shipment. It ensures there is no chance of further contamination before the food is unwrapped. Irradiation of the product in its final packaging is the ultimate terminal critical control process.


Irradiation technology is probably the most exhaustively researched food processing method ever proposed. The immense body of evidence is unanimous in its support of irradiation as a safe and effective method for treating food.

Global Regulatory Acceptance

Levels of food irradiation and the desired effect


Dose (kGy)

Products (* FDA Approved)

Low-dose (up to 1 kGy)



   I.  Inhibition of sprouting.


Potatoes*, onion*, garlic*, root ginger*, yam, etc.

  II. Insect and parasite disinfestations.


Cereals* and pulses, fresh and dried fruits*, dried fish and meal*, etc.

 III.  Delay of physiological process (e.g., ripening)


Fresh fruits and vegetables*

Medium-dose (1-10kGy)



  I. Extension of shelf life.


Fresh fish, strawberries*, mushrooms, etc.

 II. Elimination of spoilage and pathogenic microorganisms.


Fresh and frozen seafood, raw and frozen poultry and meat*, shell eggs*, etc.

III. Improving technological properties of food.


Grapes (increasing juice yield), dehydrated vegetables (reduced cooking time), etc.

IV. Industrial sterilization (in combination with mild heat)


Meat*, poultry*, seafood, prepared foods, sterilized hospital diets, etc.

 V. Decontamination of certain food additives and ingredients.


Spices*, enzyme preparation*, natural gum, etc.

SureBeam Middle East Quality System 

SureBeam Middle East certification is internationally accepted and we are accredited to ISO 9000-2001; to provide electron beam services involving process of sterilization and decontamination of medical, pharmaceutical consumer and food products.