Food Safety News - Iowa State University Extension

Does Ultraviolet Mean Ultrasafe?


Cathy Siegner

American consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the safety-enhancing methods used on food and beverage products before their arrival at retail outlets: pasteurization by heat and high-pressure treatment, and irradiation by gamma rays, X-ray or electron beams.

But they may not know much about ultraviolet radiation (UV), which is gradually becoming more common as a relatively inexpensive and, depending on the type product on which it’s used, effective method of reducing or eliminating pathogens.

UV is classified into three general areas by wavelength: UV-A, UV-B and UV-C. UV-A has the longest wavelength range (320-400 nanometers) and is the type of radiation responsible for sunburns and is linked to skin cancer. UV-B, at 280-320 nanometers, also plays a role in skin tanning and burning, but it’s a minor one compared to UV-A.

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Food safety news is compiled from a number of sources and is provided only for informational purposes. Accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed by Iowa State University. Headlines are sometimes rewritten for clarity or to fit space. Original sources are indicated whenever possible and full stories may not be posted to honor the original author copyright.