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

Context:

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.

Relevance:

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
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