Victoria pursuing irradiation option

Project exploring new market developments with phytosanitary irradiation

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CLEAN: Persimmons after x-ray irradiation at Steritech in Melbourne. Photo: Glenn Hale

CLEAN: Persimmons after x-ray irradiation at Steritech in Melbourne. Photo: Glenn Hale

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Irradiation is growing in acceptance for export fruit processing.

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IRRADIATION is increasingly becoming the go-to option for fresh produce exporters, according to the Victorian Government.

The state has talked up the benefits of the procedure which treats fruit and vegetables for rogue bugs and diseases prior to departure.

It comes on the back of Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) recently announcing a new domestic food regulatory measure that permits the use of irradiation as a phytosanitary treatment for all fresh fruit and vegetables (Standard 1.5.3 - Irradiation of food).

Over the past five years, Australian domestic and export trade volumes using phytosanitary irradiation have tripled in volume.

PROCESS: Steritech's x-ray irradiation facility in Melbourne, treating producing ready for export. Photo: Ben Reilly

PROCESS: Steritech's x-ray irradiation facility in Melbourne, treating producing ready for export. Photo: Ben Reilly

A growing list of crops including table grapes, mangoes and cherries have all had export success using irradiation as a phytosanitary treatment.

Agriculture Victoria is leading a project in conjunction with Hort Innovation with new research intended to fill gaps in the knowledge regarding pest and disease mortality, impacts on product quality and shelf life, and barriers to market access.

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The project, Building capacity in irradiation - pathways to export, will be delivered by an international research consortium led by Agriculture Victoria with support from Steritech, NSW Department of Primary Industries, SA Research and Development Institute, Aerial (France), NZ Plant and Food Research, and Radservices (NZ).

The project is designed to build industry and government capability, support strategic sharing of knowledge with international trading partners, and promote acceptance of phytosanitary irradiation by those same trading partners.

Horticulture Innovation's Anthony Baker said the project should benefit growers.

"This research will address common market access needs and opportunities for many Australian horticultural crops," Mr Baker said.

DATA: Assessing fruit quality (left) and measuring respiration rates. Photo: Glenn Hale

DATA: Assessing fruit quality (left) and measuring respiration rates. Photo: Glenn Hale

"Australia is well positioned to continue leading the world in the development and application of phytosanitary irradiation."

Australian horticultural has traditionally relied on phytosanitary treatments such as cold disinfestation, methyl bromide fumigation and vapor heat, to meet market access requirements for domestic and international trade.

Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) recently announced a new domestic food regulatory measure that permits the use of irradiation as a phytosanitary treatment for all fresh fruit and vegetables (Standard 1.5.3 - Irradiation of food).

According to a statement from Agriculture Victoria: "Irradiation as a phytosanitary treatment is fast, chemical free, cost-effective and potentially 100 per cent carbon neutral by using renewable energy sources however it is not recognised by many of Australia and New Zealand's trading partners."

DELIVERED: Steritech receiving products at its X-ray irradiation facility in Melbourne. Photo: Ben Reilly

DELIVERED: Steritech receiving products at its X-ray irradiation facility in Melbourne. Photo: Ben Reilly

"The pathway to international acceptance for phytosanitary irradiation requires that industry, government and our international trading partners acknowledge that irradiation as a phytosanitary measure is not only effective against key pests and diseases but poses no risk to human health."

"All this whilst retaining product quality and shelf life better than traditional measures are able."

Australia has been a leader in the development and application of phytosanitary irradiation for the past 15 years, establishing common food standards with New Zealand and negotiating trade protocols to eight different export markets, including the USA, Vietnam and Thailand.

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The story Victoria pursuing irradiation option first appeared on Good Fruit & Vegetables.

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