1.1 Background to the Study
In the last decade we witnessed an increasing demand for nutritious, fresh like food products with high organoleptic attributes, improved safety and prolonged shelf- life. Non thermal inactivation of microorganisms has been a major reach topic on this subject. Some of the other investigated technologies are high hydrostatic pressure (HHP), pulsed electrical fields (IEF), ionizing irradiation and ultraviolet (UV) irradiation decontamination (Devliegher et al., 2004).
Food contamination is still an enormous public health problem. The irradiation technology is capable of improving food safety prolonging food shelf life and reducing the level of food poisoning (Lacroix, 2005). This technology has gained interest worldwide, in recent years by researchers in the field of food science as well as by food manufacturers and consumers (Simmers, 2004). Food irradiation was endorsed by several authorities (FDA, USDA, WHO, FAO e.t.c.) based on extensive research work. This technology was developed in the early part of the 20th century was applied to a limited extent only. It applied properly, irradiation can inactivate food spoilage microorganisms (bacteria, molds and yeast) in raw and frozen foods in the food supply chain. It can also serve as an effective way of reducing the incidence of food borne diseases (More house, 2002). The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO/IAEA/WHO) joint committee on the wholesomeness of irradiated food approved I. 1981 the irradiation technology (JECFI, 1981). It was stated that irradiation of food at doses up to 10.0KGy (Overall average dose) is safe and introduces no special nutritional problem. The joint FAO/IAEA/WHO study group on High-Dose irradiation (JSGHDI, 1997) concluded that food irradiated yi any dose appropriate to achieve the intended technological objective is both safe to consume and nutritionally adequate.
Kume et al. (2009) studied in 2005 the status of food irradiation world wide using published data together with the response to a questionnaire survey during direct visit that they carried out. The publication contains the most recent available statistical data. The result showed that the amount of irradiated foods in the world was 405,000 tons in the year 2005. It has been reported that only in the united states, Canada and Brazil a total of 116,400 tons of irradiated foods was used. Data from other countries in Latin America such as Argentina, Chile and Mexico could not be obtained for this study.
1.2 Problem Statement
The application of novel food processing technologies to commercial foods often creates high levels of consumer concerns about the possible risks associated with consuming foods treated by these technologies. The consumer us normally not familiar with the processes applied and the ingredients involved in theanufacturing of foods. This is also true for food irradiation (Hayes et al, 2009; Gunes and Tekin, 2006). Therefore, they are concerned about possible short term and long term health effects (Cardello, 2003; Deliza et al., 2003; Cardello et al., 2007).
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The present research aimed at learning about the level of knowledge a d about opinion of consumers on food irradiation and their readiness to accept products made using this technology.
1.4 Research questions
(1) what is food irradiation?
(2) why the need for food irradiation?
(3) what dies “Radura symbol” mean?
1.5 Significance of the Study
The survey will provide an indication about the impression of the public regarding the international “Radura” symbol, indicating a food product that has been irradiated. Another significance of this study was to provide the interviewed persons and the readers informative material about the benefits if gamma irradiation as a process for food preservatives.
1.6 Scope of the Study
The research focus on the perception and view of food irradiation in Nigeria.
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Cardello, AV., Schutz, H.G., Lesher, L.I., 2007. Consumer perception s of food processed by innovative and emerging technologies. A conjoint analytic study. Innovative Food Science and Emerging Technologies 8, 73-83.
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Devlieghere, F., Vermeiren, L., Debvere, J.,2004. New preservation technologies, possibilities and limitations- review. International Dairy journal 14, 273-285.
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JECFI, 1981. Wholesomeness of irradiated food. Report of a joint FAO/ IAEA/WHO Expert Committee, WHO Technical Report Series 659, WHO, Geneva.
JSGHDI, 1997. Wholesomeness of food irradiated with doses above 10kGy. Report of joint FAO /IAEA/ WHO study group in High dose irradiation, WHO technical report series 890, WHO, Geneva.
Kume, T., Fututa, M., Todoriki, S. Uenoyama, N, Kobayashi, Y. 2009. Status of food irradiation in the world. Radiation physics and chemistry 78, 222-226.
Lacroix,M. (2005). Personal interview. In cities.
Morehouse, K.M., 2002. Food irradiation- US regulatory considerations. Radiation physics and chemistry 63, 281-284.
Simmers, C. 2004. Food irradiation is already here. Food Technology 58(11), 22.