Food irradiation system is designed to address quarantine security and food safety issues

MDS Nordion on May 11 introduced the Quadura system, a new pallet food irradiator that is designed for importers and exporters of exotic fruits and vegetables. The system provides an economical and environmentally friendly disinfestation treatment to satisfy the quarantine security requirements of international markets.

"Most tropical fruits cannot be treated by conventional methods and irradiation affords a new treatment for these fruits and an opportunity for many countries, particularly developing countries, to expand their export markets," said Dr. Ralph Ross, former Deputy Assistant Administrator for the U.S. Agricultural Research Service and Deputy Director of Science and Technology in USDA-APHIS-PPQ. "Irradiation is an alternative to methyl bromide, the universal chemical fumigant now under international regulatory scrutiny. The new Quadura irradiator represents the most advanced system available for these purposes."

"Export markets are critical to the long-term growth of the fruit industry in the Philippines," said Dr. Hernani Golez, Director of the Bureau of Plant Industry for the Philippine government. "We need to take advantage of the newest technology in order to provide a high quality product that meets stringent import regulations in these markets, and do it in a cost-effective manner to maintain competitiveness."

The Quadura systems' design features four stations that can independently process pallets of food. This allows growers and processors to administer multiple pallet-specific treatment doses simultaneously to fruit, vegetables, meat and poultry to eliminate quarantine pests and pathogens while guaranteeing product quality and maintaining continuous processing operations. Fully automated, the Quadura's full pallet processing will maximize operational flexibility, reduce downtime and achieve operational efficiency.

"Quadura's patented technology enables growers to irradiate a variety of produce already packaged on pallets, the standard packaging and transportation system for fruit," says John Corley, Senior Vice President, Ion Technologies at MDS Nordion. "Seamless integration of the Quadura system into the packaging and transportation process will reduce product handling, which can damage fruit, and decreases costs associated with current disinfestation techniques."

At the same time, with rising concerns about the safety of the food supply, the Quadura system answers the demand for additional food-safety assurance by eliminating food-borne pathogens such as E. coli and Listeria in meat, poultry and other foods.

As business grows, the Quadura system is scalable and can be configured for a wide range of processing scenarios without compromising performance. This flexibility makes the system cost-effective for a variety of businesses, from exotic fruit and vegetable exporters that would process from 200 to 300 million pounds of product annually, to small or midsize meat processors who would typically process less than 50 million pounds each year. It is based on the same leading edge irradiation technology that MDS Nordion has used to design and build more than 120 irradiators in over 45 countries around the world.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization has endorsed irradiation as an effective means of preventing food-borne illness and reducing post-harvest losses caused by spoilage, infestation and contamination. These losses affect an estimated 25% of all food produced worldwide. An October 2002 ruling by the U.S. Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) allows irradiated fruits and vegetables to be imported into the United States. Extensively studied for more than 40 years, food irradiation is endorsed by the World Health Organization, the American Medical Association and the American Dietetic Association as safe and effective.

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