An irradiation facility in Sioux City Iowa has been doing some irradiation for Pakistan mangoes. The mangoes from Pakistan have been flown into Chicago, trucked to Sioux city and irradiated there.
1:15 p.m. Karst: What do people refer to when they talk about the cost of irradiation?
1:16 p.m. Eustice: It all depends. I’m not the one negotiating the contracts. My answer is always that it is pennies a pound. I think it is less than methyl bromide is going to cost.
1:17: p.m. Karst: Are other countries accepting irradiated fruit?
1:18 p.m. Eustice; Australia in 2006 exported 200 metric tons of irradiated mangoes to New Zealand, in 2011, they exported 1,262 metric tons of mangoes to New Zealand.
Mexico and Hawaii together are shipping some 30 million pounds of irradiated produce to the U.S. and then we have some activity out of Vietnam with dragon fruit, and India and Pakistan with mangoes and Thailand is doing litchi and rambutan.
1:20 p.m. Karst: How do you see irradiation developing over the next ten years?
1:22 p.m. Eustice: I see steady growth. A senior meats person from one of the major retailers sent me a note just last week and said ‘I’m with you 100 percent; we need to use this technology and we need to have it as a tool so we can offer (ground beef) to consumers as a safe product,”
1:23 p.m. Karst: What do think about the use of irradiation on leafy green vegetables? Do you think that we will ever see that in the market place?
1:24 p.m. Eustice: First of all, it works just fine. The challenge is the logistics because production is so seasonal. Harvest starts around Brawley California and moves north. What would be ideal if you could have a facility that would be in a central area and could (irradiate) other types of products, such as medical items. That’s the ideal thing. It is just a matter of finding a niche.
As far as spinach and lettuce, what is holding us back is that a lot of the salad mixes include a variety of different greens and that are not all approved for irradiation (by the FDA). They approved spinach and they approved iceberg lettuce There are several pending approvals of various commodities (at FDA) If we had approval of all green vegetables, that would be helpful. Maybe what it is going to take is another big recall.