TANZANIA – The Tanzania Atomic Energy Commission (TAEC) is considering development of a food preservation project using Nuclear energy in the country, reports Daily News

According to the commission’s Director General, Professor Lazaro Busagala, TAEC is planning to introduce the food irradiation project with a view of reducing the risk of food-borne diseases caused by microorganisms.

“Irradiation can make food safer for the consumer as it aims to discontinue the reproductive cycle of bacteria that often causes such food to spoil,” explained Professor Busagala

Additionally, the project will also include utilisation of irradiation energy in the preservation of agricultural products to increase crop production, protect land and water resources

The head of the Atomic Commission during a briefing on the core activities highlighted that the technology will also be employed on export crops and fruits.

He noted that if properly utilised, the technological undertaking will also maintain the freshness of horticultural products such as flowers.

“Such a technology will also spare exporters the burden of costs they are forced to grapple with at country’s exit and entry points,” he said.

Prof. Busagala further unveiled that TAEC is planning to set up special food irradiation laboratories in Dar es Salaam, Mbeya, Dodoma, Mwanza and regions located on borders to serve such a purpose.

According to him, the commission will also establish a nuclear power plant that will be used in the manufacture of anticancer drugs.

The Arusha Regional Commissioner commended TAEC for constructing state-of-the-art laboratory, biggest of its kind in the East African Community (EAC) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

He challenged the commission to raise more public awareness on the importance of radiation and the health risks that come with it.

Tanzania Atomic Energy Commission was established in 2003 with a mandate of providing regulatory and radiation protection services, coordinate, monitor, and promote peaceful use of nuclear Science and Technology in Tanzania.

Food irradiation technique in food processing

Food irradiation is a processing and preservation technique through which food is exposed to doses of ionising energy, or radiation.

At low doses, irradiation extends a product’s shelf life while at higher doses, this process kills insects, moulds, bacteria and other potentially harmful micro-organisms.

Scientific research indicates that food irradiation is a safe and effective form of processing with the technique being utilised in 40 countries including Australia, the United States, Japan, China, France and Holland.

However, Food Standards Code require that irradiated foods will be clearly labelled so that consumers can make an informed choice.