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Irradiation 'essential' to make food safe

作者:薛疯    发布时间:2019-03-04 05:01:03    

FOOD poisoning in Britain is ‘out of control’ according to Bevan Moseley, head of the government’s Institute of Food Research (IFR) laboratory in Reading. Irradiation will be needed to deal with contamination of some foods, Moseley said, ‘maybe within the year’. He was speaking last week at a conference on Food and Farming, organised by the Institute of Biology. Exposing foods to ionising radiation could be a very valuable procedure, Moseley said, because ‘food pathogens are fortunately extremely sensitive to irradiation’. At present, it is illegal to irradiate food or sell imported irradiated food in Britain. A directive from the European Commission will soon prevent Britain from blocking imports of foods merely because they are irradiated. Moseley thinks that the introduction of irradiated food will have a ‘significant impact on public health’ in Britain. Irradiation could be approved, Moseley said, ‘because we are unable to control food poisoning in any other way’. But it will have to overcome strong resistance from consumers. About 85 per cent of people questioned recently said that they would not eat irradiated food. Moseley went on to outline the ways in which the 400 scientists at the food research institutes in Bristol, Norwich and Reading are developing a coherent programme to ensure the safety of foods in the future (‘What will bacteria do next?’, New Scientist, 25 March). At present, confirming the presence of a toxic organism, such as Salmonella enteritidis, can take five days or more. New DNA probes, which detect genes unique to specific organisms, will be combined with techniques using the polymerase chain reaction, which amplifies tiny amounts of DNA, to do the job in a matter of hours. Similar probes, directed at RNA, can distinguish closely related strains of bacteria. A different technique uses the ecological principle called competitive exclusion; pathogens find it hard to establish themselves in a thriving population of harmless bacteria. Inoculating young chicks with innocent bacteria from the guts of adult hens can prevent infection with Salmonella enteritidis. The IFR, which is run by the Agricultural and Food Research Council, is exploring the use of this technique to protect foods with bacteria that produce lactic acid,

 

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