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Meet looks at radiation processing for better shelf life of food, improved hygiene
Tuesday, 19 July, 2011, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Manjushree Naik, Mumbai
The role of radiation processing in increasing shelf life of food and other related aspects in ensuring food safety was highlighted at a seminar on Radiation Processing Technology for Food Safety & Security, which was organised at Federation House, Hyderabad, on Saturday.

Informing FnB News over the phone and through a press release, Venkateshwarlu Bulemoni, assistant director, media relations, FAPCCI, said, "The event was inaugurated by C R Biswal, principal secretary to government, industries & commerce department, Government of Andhra Pradesh, and V S Raju, president, FAPCCI (Federation of Andhra Pradesh Chambers of Commerce & Industry).

Biswal said in his address that the radiation processing of food stuff was a universally accepted technology and used in scientific and commercial applications in agriculture, animal husbandry, medical sciences, and pharmaceuticals.

He added that one of the most important applications was in the post-harvest handling and management of food stuff. "This process improves food conservation, food hygiene and paves the way for higher food exports. It eliminates quarantine barriers at the port of importation. It enhances the shelf life of food products and facilitates in packaging, storage, transport and distribution of foodstuff for the end-consumer usage. Radiation processing is useful in preservation of food items since it destroys organisms that cause spoilage, thus extending shelf life," he stated at the meet.

Biswal said that the safety and nutritional adequacy of irradiated foods for human consumption was well established. "India is one of the few countries that have the expertise in the deployment of radiation technology. Food safety is an important topic worldwide. Irradiation is a proven and effective post-harvest method to reduce losses, eliminate food-borne pathogens in foods and enables the control of insects and pests, including pests of quarantine, in agricultural commodities. The technology helps developing countries in their efforts to improve food safety and quality and to facilitate trade in foodstuff. Irradiation is a direct, simple and efficient one-time process. Good numbers of countries are using this process in food processing industries and institutional catering."

Biswal further pointed out, "Food processing is declared as small industry and is eligible for relief from minimum electricity charges during off-season when the unit is not functioning. Twenty five per cent cost of external infrastructure for power, water, approach roads and other infrastructures limited to Rs 2 crore. Reimbursement on State Goods & Services Tax for mega food parks during the construction period for a period of 2 years limited to a maximum Rs 2 crore. Reimbursement power cost at Rs 1 per unit (upper ceiling) on the proposed revised rates (2010-11) for 5 years. In case, decrease in power tariff, the reimbursement will be reduced proportionately. All eligible industries / enterprises under food processing will also be eligible for other benefits as per the Industrial Investment Promotion Policy 2010-15."

Hence, he urged the investors to take advantage of the liberal incentives being provided by the Government and invest in food processing units. "Today, the food processing industry is a sunrise industry and has immense potential for growth and therefore this industry offers unique opportunity for investment," he said.

Raju of FAPCCI, in his welcome address, said that food preservation was a need for ensuring supply of food throughout the year particularly during crop failure / natural disaster and supply of food across a large area where it was not produced. "Food is the most precious commodity on earth for the human life. Life is not sustained without adequate food. Therefore, food security and preservation are more important," he said.

He felt that rapid urbanisation, depletion in the quantum of arable land, uncertain agro-climatic conditions, primitive practices of harvesting and storage of food grains and long distances between harvesting and consumption centres added to the necessity for better preservation and effective utilisation. "About 20-40% of our agricultural produce is lost due to spoilage by pests, insects and microbes. Microbial contaminants cause human illness and produce toxins also rendering food unsafe for consumption. Therefore radiation technology is essential to preserve agricultural commodities and food products," he said.

Srinivas Ayyadevara, vice-president, FAPCCI; P B Kaginalli, managing director, Gamma Agro-Medical Processings Pvt Ltd, Hyd; Prof. Surendra Kumar Sood, scientist, food technologist, Hyderabad; Dr S Ranganathan, scientist, National Institute of Nutrition, Hyderabad; Dr Dilip Babu, scientist, ANGRAU, Rajendranagar, Hyderabad; K Bhaskara Reddy, chairman, Agriculture & Agro Industries Committee, FAPCCI; and M V Rajeshwara Rao, secretary-general, FAPCCI; also spoke at the seminar.
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