Nordion Builds North America’s First Food-Only Gamma Irradiator

June 2, 2011

This is a prime example of how the nuclear industry continues to play an increasingly important role in the lives of Canadians – and North Americans – not only for power generation but for our most basic health and safety too.

Delicious and Safe Produce – Photo courtesy of Nordion

Nordion has built North America’s first gamma irradiator, custom-built to eliminate insect pests from fresh fruit.  Irradiation is commonly used to protect consumers from food-borne disease, reduce spoilage and improve shelf life. Gamma sterilization works by exposing products to a measured dose of ionizing radiation from Cobalt-60 (also supplied by Nordion). This destroys insect pests and helps to reduce harmful bacteria such as Salmonella and E.coli. (E.coli is a serious health threat. An outbreak is underway in Europe right now) And of course, gamma irradiation doesn’t affect the taste or nutritional value of fruits and veggies.

The irradiator was built for Benebion, a Mexican provider of phytosanitary services to exporters of fruit and vegetables, a USD$7.1 billion industry in Mexico. The plant in Matehuala will have the annual capacity of 300,000 metric tons!

Pallet Irradiator – Photo courtesy of Nordion

Nordion has been in the gamma sterilization game for over 40 years. CEO Steve West says, “As demonstrated by this new facility, Nordion is able to tailor its sterilization systems to meet its customers’ specific processing needs … Nordion brings unparalleled experience, reliability and expertise to customers such as BENEBION.”

Arved Deecke, CEO of Benebion is happy about the irradiator and says, “The new Nordion irradiator allows us to do just that [serve the produce industry]. Mexico will now be able to export guava at significant volumes and offer tree-ripened quality mangoes, something simply not achievable with the current hot water dipping process.”

Canada’s federal Government and the Canadian nuclear industry have a long history of investing in nuclear R&D. Let’s keep it up!

Read more in Nordion’s full press release.

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