Scientific Opinion on the efficacy and microbiological safety of irradiation of food

Food irradiation, efficacy, microbiological safety, food-borne pathogens
First published in the EFSA Journal
6 April 2011
22 September 2010
Scientific Opinion

The Opinion considers and discusses efficacy of food irradiation as the ability of irradiation to reduce food-borne pathogens in foods and microbiological safety of food irradiation as the contribution of irradiation to reduce the risks to human health from food-borne pathogens. The chemical safety and nutritional aspects of irradiation are addressed in a separate Opinion by the EFSA Panel on Food contact materials, enzymes, flavourings and processing aids. Potential microbiological risks linked to food irradiation are reviewed and the Opinion confirms that there are no microbiological risks for the consumer linked to the use of food irradiation and its consequences on the food microflora. The Opinion recommends that food irradiation should be based on risk assessment and on the desired risk reduction rather than on predefined food classes/commodities and doses as proposed in the past. In addition, with respect to efficacy and microbiological safety, it is recommended that upper dose limits for pathogen reduction should not be specified, since other constraints, such as undesirable chemical changes, will limit the doses applied. Irradiation should be considered as one of several approaches to reducing pathogens in food and thus helping to ensure protection of consumers’ health. It is also recommended that food irradiation should only be used in conjunction with an integrated food safety management program and the Opinion concludes that when this includes GAP, GHP, GMP and HACCP, and depending on the dose applied, food irradiation can contribute to improved consumer safety by reducing food-borne pathogens.

Panel members at the time of adoption
Olivier Andreoletti, Herbert Budka, Sava Buncic, John D Collins, John Griffin, Tine Hald, Arie Havelaar, James Hope, Günter Klein, James McLauchlin, Christine Müller-Graf, Christophe Nguyen-The, Birgit Noerrung, Luisa Peixe, Miguel Prieto Maradona, Antonia Ricci, John Sofos, John Threlfall, Ivar Vågsholm, Emmanuel Vanopdenbosch
Panel on Biological Hazards
biohaz [at]
EFSA Journal 2011;9(4):2103
Question Number
On request from
European Commission