Fruit and vegetable irradiation is a food safety and preservation technology, similar to pasteurization. While pasteurization uses heat to kill microorganisms, irradiation uses a form of energy called ionizing radiation. The process involves exposing food, either in bulk or packaged, to gamma rays for a specified amount of time. It is similar to ultraviolet (UV), visible and infra-red light, microwaves and radio waves used for communication. The effects of irradiation on the food and on animals and people eating irradiated food have been studied extensively. Irradiation has been shown to be a safe and effective tool that can help to prevent many foodborne diseases. Any imported irradiated food must also be approved for irradiation in Canada and must comply with all relevant regulations, including labelling requirements. Canadian government regulations require all foods processed by irradiation be labelled with an international symbol for irradiation and the words "treated by irradiation", "treated with radiation" or "irradiated".
Please download Fresh Facts: Irradiation, part of our Fresh Facts series, for more information about irradiation.