Recent well-publicized outbreaks of foodborne illness have heightened general interest in food safety. Food irradiation is a technology that has been approved for use in selected foods in the United States since 1963. Widespread use of irradiation remains controversial, however, because of public concern regarding the safety of the technology and the wholesomeness of irradiated foods. In this report, we describe the technology, review safety and wholesomeness issues, and give a historical perspective of the public controversy regarding food irradiation.

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