CDC - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

01/30/2023 | News release | Archived content

Food Irradiation

Do irradiated foods become radioactive or lose nutrients?

Irradiated foods do not become radioactive, meaning they do not give off radiation. Eating irradiated foods does not expose you to or contaminate you with radiation or radioactive materials.

During the food irradiation process, beams of radiation pass through the food in the same way that X-ray beams pass through you when you get a medical X-ray. After you receive an X-ray, you are not radioactive, and no additional radiation or radioactive materials remain inside or outside your body. Similarly, after food is irradiated it does not have any additional radiation or radioactive materials inside or outside the food.

Irradiated foods do not lose a significant amount of nutrients during the process. Nutrient loss during irradiation is similar to the amount of nutrients lost during cooking, freezing, canning and other food safety methods.