Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) has announced the approval of irradiation of tomatoes and peppers as a quarantine treatment for fruit flies and other pests of concern to Australia and New Zealand.
FSANZ received Application A1069 , “Irradiation of Tomatoes & Capsicums," from the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) Queensland3 in association with the New Zealand Fresh Produce Importers Association (NZFPIA) to permit treatment by irradiation of tomatoes and capsicums as a phytosanitary measure because the use of the chemicals formerly employed for this purpose, dimethoate and/or fenthion, has been restricted.
FSANZ concluded available studies indicate that irradiating tomatoes and peppers does not pose a significant human health risk for consumers because:
No toxicological hazards have been identified with the use of food irradiation up to a maximum of 1 kGy.
Differences in the levels of irradiation sensitive vitamins or provitamins (ie. vitamins A & C and beta-carotene) in tomatoes and capsicums are within the range of the vitamin losses that normally occur during the storage or processing of non-irradiated fruit.
Any potential effects of irradiation on vitamin levels are smaller than effects associated with other food handling or processing steps, such as cooking, drying, freezing, storage time and ripeness.
Estimated mean dietary intakes of the irradiation-sensitive vitamins A and C following irradiation remain above Estimated Average Requirements even for the worst case scenario (loss of 15% following irradiation of fresh tomatoes, capsicums and tropical fruits (with existing irradiation permissions).
Assessment of the combined cumulative nutritional impacts of both the currently permitted irradiated foods and irradiated fresh tomatoes and capsicums on population intakes of vitamin A and C led to an estimated decrease of less than 2% for all scenarios.
FSANZ requires mandatory labeling and record-keeping requirements for all irradiated foods, therefore, no additional labeling of irradiated tomatoes and capsicums will be needed.