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Privatization of Gamma-irradiation technology

Published: 9th Aug, 2021


Gamma irradiation technology for food preservation is operational in the country in private, semi-government and government sector for irradiation of various products with private players and presently 26 Gamma Radiation Processing Plants are running in India.

  • The setting of food irradiation facilities in the Public-Private mode mitigates the huge quantum of post-harvest and storage losses of agricultural produce and food.This will result in national savings.

What is Gamma irradiation technology for food preservation?

  • Gamma irradiation technology is used for the preservation or shelf life extension by applying pre-determined radiation doses.
  • This technology is used to inhibit-
    • sprouting in bulbs and tubers
    • insect disinfestation of cereals, pulses, and grains
    • microbial decontamination (hyalinization) of dry spices etc.
  • Factors impacting the result of technology: post-irradiation storage, the time-lapse between irradiation and distribution to users, and the total quantity of irradiated food products.
Sources of food irradiation
  • Gamma Rays: Cobalt 60
  • Electronic Beam
  • X-Ray 

Advantages and Disadvantages of food irradiation


  • Terminal Processing: Due to the penetration depth of the ionizing radiation, the products can be processed in fully sealed, final packaging. This limits risk of contamination after the sterilization.
  • Cold Method/Temperature Independence: Radiation sterilization has no heat dependence and is efficient at ambient temperature and sub-zero temperatures also. It is also compatible with temperature-sensitive materials, such as pharmaceuticals and the biological samples.
  • Chemical Independence: No volatile and toxic chemicals are needed for radiation. In the case of X-ray or e-beam irradiation, no end products which require disposal are generated during the procedure.
  • No residue: Radiation does not leave residue on the sterilized product.
  • Flexibility: Radiation can sterilize the products of any phase (gaseous, liquid, or solid materials).
  • Time efficiency: The E-beam sterilization can be completed in seconds to minutes.
  • Sterility assurance level (SAL): Radiation treatment yields a high SAL of 10-6 or better, which ensures that less than one out of a million microorganisms survive the sterilization procedure.


  • Instrumentation: The capital costs are high and specialization facilities are often needed. Gamma radiation requires a nuclear reactor; E-beam/X-ray radiation is generated by using electron beam accelerators.
  • Product Degradation: Radiation-based methods are not compatible with all the packaging materials and can cause its breakdown.
  • Radioactive material: Radiation sterilization requires handling and disposal of the radioactive material.

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