Glossary of Food Irradiation Terms

Select the first letter of the word from the list above to jump to words that begin with that letter in the glossary.

A - B - C - D - E - F - G - H - I - J - K - L - M - N - O - P - Q - R - S - T - U - V - W - X - Y - Z - #

- A -

- B -

Bacteria
One-celled microorganism that can cause illness and spoil food, sometimes without changing the food's taste, smell, or appearance.

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- C -

Carbohydrates
Components of food that give us energy. They are made of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. Sugars and starches are examples.

Cesium 137
A metal that, when processed a certain way, gives off ionizing radiation. It is used in food irradiation.

Cobalt 60
A metal that, when processed a certain way, gives off ionizing radiation. It is used in food irradiation.

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- E -

Enzyme
A protein in food that starts a chemical reaction, such as ripening.

- F -

Food Irradiation
The process of exposing food to radiation (rays of energy).

Free Radicals
Atoms or molecules with an unpaired electron. Formation of free radicals is a normal oxidation process in foods and are formed during food treatments such as toasting, frying, freeze drying, and irradiation. They are generally very reactive, unstable structures that continuously react with substances to form stable products.

Free radicals disappear by reacting with each other in the presence of liquids, such as saliva in the mouth. Consequently, their ingestion does not create any toxicological or other harmful effects.

Fungi
Plural of fungus.

Fungus
A type of plant with no chlorophyll (green pigment). Examples are yeasts, molds, and mushrooms.

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- G -

Gray
Unit that measures the radiation dose (Gy). International health and safety authorities have endorsed the safety of irradiation for all foods up to a dose level of 10,000 Gy (10 kGy). One gray equals one joule of energy absorbed per kilogram of food being irradiated.

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- H -

- I -

Ionizing radiation
Rays of energy that move in short, fast wave patterns and can penetrate cells.

Irradiate
To expose to, or treat, with radiation.

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- K -

- L -

- M -

Mold
A fungus that can grow in food. It often shows up as a furry growth on food.

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- N -

Non-ionizing radiation
Rays of energy that move in long, slow wave patterns and do not penetrate cells.

- O -

- P -

Parasite
An organism that lives on or in another organism which is called the "host." It does not help the host.

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- Q -

- R -

Radiation
Rays of energy.

Radiation Dose
The quantity of radiation energy absorbed by the food as it passes through the radiation field during processing.

Radiolytic Products (RP's)
Chemicals produced in food when the food is irradiated that are the same as chemicals produced during cooking.

Radura Symbol
A circular symbol that must appear on all irradiated food unless the food is used as an ingredient in a processed food or is served in a restaurant.

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- S -

Spore
The part of mold that reproduces and causes the mold to spread. It is the mold's version of a seed.

- T -

- U -

Unique Radiolytic Products (URPs)
Chemicals produced in food when the food is irradiated that are different from chemicals produced during cooking.

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- W -

- X -

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  • Article History
    • Publish Date: 7/16/2003

Food Safety Tip of the Day

Seal it

IAFP - cross contamination icon

Use a plate, pan or even a plastic bag defrosting raw meats, poultry, or seafood in a refrigerator. Containing the juices that form during the defrosting process helps to prevent potential cross contamination of other items in the refrigerator. These juices may contain illness-causing bacteria that may contaminate ready-to-eat foods unless otherwise contained.

Source: Partnership for Food Safety Education

Resources:

Foodborne Pathogen of the Day

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