Irradiation and important oil vapors for cereal remedy


INRS professor Monique Lacroix is ​​an expert in science applied to foods such as radiation. Photo credit: Christian Fleury (INRS)

Combined treatment of radiation and essential oil vapors could effectively destroy insects, bacteria and mold in stored grains. A team from the National Institute for Research (INRS), led by Professor Monique Lacroix, has shown the effects of this process on insects that infest rice. The study was published in Radiation Physics and Chemistry.

Microorganisms and insects are the main enemies of the stored grains. Currently the food industry uses fumigants to destroy them. However, these compounds, which evaporate or decompose into gases in air or water, pose a threat to human health and the environment. “When grain is fumigated, a small amount of gas is absorbed by the grain and released into the atmosphere. When food is irradiated, the treatment is physical. When new molecules are created, they are no different from those produced by normal food processes become like heat, “says Professor Monique Lacroix.

Food irradiation refers to the exposure of food to ionizing radiation, including gamma rays and X-rays. The research team has determined the effectiveness of these two processes with and without essential oils.

Increase in radiation sensitivity

The aim of the study was to test whether the energy level of the variable flow rate irradiation source can affect the dose (or treatment time) required to kill 90% of insects or molds. The research team showed that gamma rays are more effective against insects than X-rays. In addition, a higher dose rate with gamma rays was found to be more effective than a lower dose rate. In addition, adding eucalyptus and tea tree essential oils significantly improved its effectiveness. “With the addition of essential oils, the required dose was four to six times lower, depending on the gamma dose rate. In fact, oils increase the sensitivity of insects to radiation,” says Professor Lacroix.

Similar results can be seen with bacteria and mold, although they are more resistant to radiation. An earlier study found that adding thyme and oregano essential oils increased the sensitivity of microorganisms to radiation by 1.5 times.

The team also conducted experiments on essential oil vapors that had diffused in 5 kg bags of rice. In the future, the team would like to test the process in an industrial environment through partnership with companies.

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More information:
Farah Hossain et al., Radiosensitization of the rice beetle Sitophilus oryzae using combined treatments of essential oils and ionizing radiation with gamma radiation and X-rays at different dose rates, radiation physics and chemistry (2020). DOI: 10.1016 / j.radphyschem.2020.109286

Provided by the National Institute for Scientific Research – INRS

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