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India to Use Food Irradiation to Mitigate Onion Shortages Amid Declining Output


To prevent shortages and price hikes, the Indian government plans to utilize radiation processing (food irradiation) to extend the shelf life of a 100,000 tonne onion buffer stock. This initiative comes as India, a major onion exporter, faces a 16% decline in onion output for the 2023-24 season, reducing production to an estimated 25.47 million tonnes.


Facts for Prelims

What is Food Irradiation?

  • Definition: Food irradiation is the process of exposing food and food products to ionising radiation such as gamma rays, electron beams, or X-rays.
  • Purpose: It is used in food processing to help ensure food safety.
Causes of Food Waste:
  • Seasonal Overstocking and Long Transport Times: Lead to significant food waste.
  • Climate Factors: India’s hot and humid climate is a breeding ground for spoilage-causing insects and microbes.
  • Post-Harvest Losses: In India, these losses amount to about 40-50% in food and food grains, mostly caused by insect infestation, microbiological contamination, sprouting, ripening, and poor shelf life.
  • Seafood, Meat, and Poultry: These can harbor harmful bacteria and parasites that make people sick.
Applications of Food Irradiation:
  • Prevention of Spoilage: Helps in preventing spoilage and extending the shelf life of food.
  • Germ Elimination: Kills germs and harmful microorganisms.
  • Pest Control: Eliminates bugs in stored food.
  • Delaying Sprouting: Helps in delaying the sprouting of certain foods.
Regulatory Framework:
  • In India, irradiated food is regulated in accordance with the Atomic Energy (Control of Irradiation of Food) Rules, 1996.

-Source: The Hindu

June 2024