How do you like your frogs legs? Irradiated

By Joseph James Whitworth contact

- Last updated on GMT

Frog legs made up almost half of all products irradiated
Frog legs made up almost half of all products irradiated

Related tags: European union

Frogs legs and dried aromatic herbs and spices were the top two commodities irradiated but overall use of the technique fell, according to an EU report.

Frog legs made up 46.4% and dried aromatic herbs and spices 24.4% but there was a decrease of 14% in the quantity of products irradiated in the EU compared to 2012 (7,972 tonnes).

A total of 6,876 tonnes of products were treated with ionising irradiation, 84% in three Member States: Belgium (3,399.3 tonnes), Netherlands (1,678.6) and Spain (871).

No food was irradiated in Bulgaria, Italy, Romania and the UK for the 2013 calendar year​.

Approved EU facilities

Food irradiation exposes food to electron beams, X-rays or gamma rays. It can be used to kill food poisoning bacteria such as Salmonella, Campylobacter and E.coli.

France has five approved facilities, Germany has four, Spain has three and Bulgaria, the Netherlands and Poland have two.

There are no approved facilities in Denmark, Ireland, Greece, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Austria, Slovenia, Slovakia, Finland, Sweden and Portugal.

The administered dose ranged from 1 kilogray (kGy) used by the Netherlands on egg white to 10 kGy used by Estonia on aromatic herbs, spices and vegetable seasoning (dried). 

Irradiation of dried aromatic herbs, spices and vegetable seasonings is authorised at EU level.

Any irradiated foodstuff containing one or more irradiated food ingredient must be labelled “irradiated” or “treated with ionising radiation”.

If an irradiated product is used as an ingredient in a compound food, the same words should accompany the list of ingredients.

For products sold in bulk, these words shall appear together with the name of the product on a display or notice above or beside the container in which they are placed.

Product marketing stage

The report found 5713 samples were analysed by 22 Member States in 2013. Three accounted for 66% of the samples (Germany 50.5%, Italy 9.7% and the Netherlands 6.3%; compared to in 2012: Germany 52.4%, the Netherlands 7.2% and UK 6.2%).

A total of 5511 samples (96.5%) were compliant with the provisions of Directive 1999/2/EC, 130 samples (2.3%) were non-compliant, and 73 samples (1.5%) gave inconclusive results.

The two main reasons for non-compliance of tested samples were incorrect labelling and forbidden irradiation; non-compliance was also due to irradiation in facilities not approved by the EU.

Germany reported 38 non-compliant samples out of a total of 2,886, Netherlands had 20 out of 360 samples, Finland 13 out of 272 and Poland 10 out of 308.

Non-compliant food types varied from sauces and soups, food supplements to herbs and spices.

In the Netherlands, food supplements made up 11 of the non-compliant cases because irradiation was done in facilities not approved by the EU.

Other food types tested including cereals, seed, vegetables and fruits, herbal teas, meat, mushrooms, nuts and milk and milk products. 

There are 25 approved irradiation facilities within the European Union in 13 Member States.

No foodstuff was irradiated in seven of the 25 approved facilities. Only nine of 13 Member States irradiated foodstuffs in 2013. 

One new irradiation facility was approved in Spain and no approved facilities closed. 

Related topics: Market Trends, Food Safety & Quality

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