Resource Efficient Innovations Database (REID)

New x-ray irradiation technique boosts shelf life

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New x-ray irradiation technique boosts shelf life
Research work finds that ionising irradiation technique is more effective and reduces the risk of recontamination when compared to other processes.
In Development – Research has so far been confined to the lab.

Product Waste Reduction, Shelf life extension

Product Categories

Relevant Materials
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Relevant Packaging Formats
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Supply Chain Phase


Research in the US has found that low dose x-ray irradiation of vacuum packed asparagus can increase shelf life and improve microbiological safety of the product.

Asparagus has a limited shelf life due to its high respiration rate, rapid moisture loss and susceptibility to microbial activity. The research work found that exposing the vegetable to an irradiation treatment post-packaging reduces aerobic bacteria and maintains up to 20% more initial sugar content compared to non-treated produce. It also curbs Phenylalanine ammonia-lyase (PAL) activity. This is important, as PAL is the main enzyme that causes lignification and toughness of asparagus.
Current treatment methods such as chlorine washes can have limited effect due to difficulty reaching into tissue crevices and rapid inactivation as a result of interaction with organic material. The new technology overcomes these limitations, and also reduces the risk of recontamination as the treatment occurs after packing.
X-ray irradiation is the newest in commercially available ionizing radiation technologies available for use with food. It does not involve radioactive substances and is free from harmful the radioactive waste handling and disposal issues associated with other irradiation techniques. Consumers are also familiar with x-ray technology and are less likely to have negative perceptions regarding its use with food products.
Further work is required to confirm how the process affects sensory and nutritional factors.
The content in this entry has been obtained from publicly available information sources only (e.g. press releases, website and trade press articles) and is subject to completion of a validation process with the technology supplier.

Potential Benefits

Asparagus is a popular vegetable, but has a short shelf life. By extending the shelf life of asparagus this technology could help to reduce the occurrence of waste product arising in the supply chain and in the home.

Intellectual Property

The research work has been undertaken at the University of Wisconsin-Stout, but x-ray irradiation equipment is commercially available.

Consultant View

This is one of many different technologies currently being researched and developed which aim to control fruit and vegetable ripening processes. Readers interested in this field should search the database for other relevant entries. Technologies featured include edible coatings, ethylene gas release technologies, active packaging, breathable films and many others. To find some of these, try searching the database using the search term "Fruit and veg".

Contacts and Further Information

Professor Joongmin Shin
303 Fryklund Hall
University of Wisconsin-Stout
Tel: 001 715/232-5228

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