Irradiation site being built on Gulf Coast - The Packer

Irradiation site being built on Gulf Coast

02/13/2013 03:34:00 PM
Coral Beach

Gateway AmericaImporters could have an additional option for phytosanitary treatment of fresh produce this spring at the Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport, easing logistics and decreasing costs, particularly for mangoes from Pakistan.

Now many mangoes from Pakistan are routed from their port of entry to the Sadex Corp. facility in Sioux City, Iowa, for irradiation before they can be distributed across the U.S.

Frank Benso, president of Gateway America, said with the installation of a Genesis II cobalt-60 irradiation machine at Gulfport importers will be able to save time and money. The project was recently completed, and Benso said he is working on final certification from the Animal and Plant Inspection Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Genesis IICourtesy Gray*StarDesigned specifically for food irradiation, the Genesis II machine uses constant volume variable pressure underwater bells (stainless steel boxes) that can hold product that is 48 inches wide by 24 inches thick and 48 inches high. The sealed bells keep product dry while it is lowered into an underground pool for phytosanitary and food safety treatment. “We will be able to accept air cargo, ocean freight and (over-the-road) shipments,” Benso said Feb. 11. “We plan to submit the certification paperwork to APHIS this week.”

Once that documentation reaches APHIS officials, the Gulfport facility could be certified in 90 days or less, said Tanya Espinosa, APHIS spokeswoman. The review will include an on-site inspection. The agency OK’d the placement of the facility at Gulfport last year, but additional certification is required for the actual equipment.

William Watson, executive director of the National Mango Board, Orlando, Fla., said the organization welcomes any additional treatment facilities to meet the phytosanitary requirements for imported mangoes.

“We’ve all been eating irradiated food for years,” Watson said. “A new facility in Gulfport would be a great option.”

Benso said in addition to providing phytosanitary services for imported produce, the Gateway America facility will provide food safety treatments for domestic and international produce. He noted that irradiation not only kills pests that APHIS is concerned about, but it also kills pathogens such as E. coli, salmonella and listeria.

“I see domestic applications for food safety measures equal to if not stronger than our phytosanitary services ultimately,” Benso said. “Irradiation also kills decay bacteria, so shelf life is extended.”

Along with irradiation services, Benso said the Gateway America facility at Gulfport has 20,000 square feet of refrigerated storage space and 20,000 square feet of dry storage space. He left room to install a second Genesis II irradiation machine.

Benso is also in the initial planning stages to build irradiation facilities on the West Coast, in New England and at other locations around the U.S. He plans to use Genesis II machines from Gray*Star Inc., Mount Arlington, N.J.

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Fallston MD  |  February, 14, 2013 at 09:25 AM

Congratulations to Bill in DC and the Stein boys in NJ!

Carl Castleton    
Brazil  |  February, 14, 2013 at 12:58 PM

Congratulations! It's good to see the implantation of a food irradiation facility in the continental USA specifically designed to mitigate plant quarantine pests. It provides more options to foreign exporters and helps brokers ensure higher quality fruit reaching the American consumer.

Ronald Eustice    
Tucson, Arizona  |  February, 14, 2013 at 01:16 PM

A gigantic step forward. Irradiation is a wonderful tool and now facilities are available to make it a convenient and economical option. Congratulations to Gateway America and Gray*Star for helping to make this happen!!!

Becky Beach    
Utica Il  |  February, 18, 2013 at 08:46 PM

Yeah, if you want your food with that, I say No Thank You!!! Organic is the only way!!! Please do not IRRadiate My Food

florida  |  February, 19, 2013 at 07:02 AM

Didn't you hear the news that irradiated food is perfectly safe? Just like how they claimed the airport scanners were perfectly safe. Oh wait, it turns out they lied about that and the airports scanners will actually be responsible for upwards of 10,000 new cancer cases each and every year! Well, what are the chances that introducing radiation directly INSIDE our bodies could be dangerous? Hmm....

Illinois  |  February, 20, 2013 at 04:53 PM

organic is not safe for food consumption......think about the definition of organic

illinois  |  February, 20, 2013 at 04:58 PM

Fumigant residue currently being consumed on fruits/vegetable are a lot more harmful. Pasteurization wasn't good for you either but it is part of everyday consumption. By the way, if you don't want irradiated foods, you better get rid of your microwave!!!! Think about it....

Ronald Eustice    
Tucson, Arizona  |  February, 21, 2013 at 01:32 AM

No one has ever become ill because food was irradiated. Thousands have become ill from harmful bacteria in organic food. Technologies such as pasteurization and irradiation are extra steps take to make our food safer. Organic food is not safer than conventional food but organic food id typically more expensive.

Coral Beach    
The Packer  |  February, 22, 2013 at 11:31 AM

FYI to readers: As far as I know, Becky is not related to me, despite our last names being the same. Just wanted to avoid any appearance of conflict of interest. No offense intended to Becky in any way.

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