Irradiation Reduces Pathogens in Frozen Turkey Meat

BRAZIL - Gamma irradiation caused an initial increase in lipid oxidation in frozen turkey breast meat but it did slow down the increase in certain pathogenic bacteria, according to recently published research.
calendar icon 29 April 2010
clock icon 3 minute read

Dr F. C. Henry from North Fluminense State University and co-authors have published a paper in Journal of Food Safety, investigating the effects of gamma radiation on the quality of frozen turkey breast meat.

Nine male turkey breasts with bone were frozen at -18°C, cut, vacuum-packed and irradiated with gamma rays (1 kGy and 3 kGy doses) and stored for 540 days at -18°C. During that time, bacteriological, physical and chemical analyses as well as a sensory evaluation were conducted after 5, 180, 360 and 540 days of storage.

The psychrophiles counts and the counts of Enterococcus spp. increased during the storage period but the count was reduced by irradiation, especially at a dose rate of 3 kGy.

Lipid oxidation increased according to the irradiation dose used and the storage time.

At the beginning of the storage, the gamma radiation helped to reduce the sensory acceptance of the meat taste, especially when the sample was subjected to a dose of 3 kGy, which was then confirmed as the one with the greatest lipid oxidation.

Dr Henry and co-authors identify a number of practical applications of their results. They say that decontamination of food by ionizing radiation is a safe, efficient, environmentally clean and energy-efficient process. Irradiation is particularly valuable as an end product decontamination procedure. Radiation treatment is an emerging technology and more and more clearances on radiation-decontaminated foods are issued or expected to be granted in the near future.

The information derived from this study serves as an essential base of knowledge from an alternative technology for food treatment that is being adopted worldwide and contributes to the development of the research in the practical application of food irradiation.

They conclude that their study provides clues to understanding the factors that affect the irradiation process on the turkey meat preservation as well as indicating a means to reduce or eliminate pathogenic bacteria including Enterococcus spp. as well as Pseudomonas aeroginosa, bacteria related to the reduction of food commercial life, from suspected food products without affecting sensory, nutritional and technical qualities.


Henry F.C., T.J.P. Silva, R.M. Franco, M.Q. Freitas and E.F.O. de Jesus. 2010. Effect of gamma radiation on frozen turkey breast meat quality. Journal of Food Safety. doi 10.1111/j.1745-4565.2010.00229.x.

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