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

Genesis irradiation machineCourtesy Gray*StarA technician operates the controls of a Genesis irradiation machine, preparing to lower airtight stainless-steel boxes into the unit’s underground pool where gamma rays provide phytosanitary treatment.Up and running in Hawaii

Produce growers and shippers in Hawaii have been using a Genesis II since the end of January, said Michael Kohn, president of Pa’ina Hawaii, which repacks, irradiates and ships produce from its Kunia, Oahu, location.

The location was the former home of a Del Monte pineapple operation and is about 20 miles from the Honolulu airport. Kohn said the site is irradiating about 50,000 pounds a week now. He anticipates that to triple that in the next month.

Commodities going through the Pa’ina Hawaii irradiation location include papayas, sweet potatoes and fresh herbs, Kohn said. He plans to seek certification to treat imports as well as produce leaving Hawaii.

“Unlike hot water treatment, with irradiation the (produce) is treated in its final shipping container so the shipper controls the quality that goes into their box,” Kohn said.

The Genesis II irradiation units are specifically designed for foods, in contrast to other irradiation equipment that is designed for sterilizing medical equipment and treating plastics. Those multi-use units cost about $20 million while the Genesis II costs about $1.8 million plus about $2.2 million for the cobalt-60 and other costs, said Martin Stein, chief executive officer of Gray*Star.

“The Genesis II is specifically for perishable food,” Stein said. “We can maintain the cold chain for perishables because it doesn’t take very long for the treatment. We designed Genesis II for the agricultural community.”

Benso said his facility in Gulfport will be able to treat about 140,000 pounds of product per day. Depending on the density of the produce it takes about 6 to 15 minutes of exposure, he said.

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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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