Around 20,000 million tonnes of food and allied products are irradiated in the country annually, the Department of Atomic Energy told a parliamentary panel.
Food irradiation is a process used to extend the shelf life and improve the safety of food products by reducing or eliminating microorganisms and insects.
According to a report tabled by the Standing Committee on Science and Technology, Environment and Forests in Parliament Wednesday, "annually, about 20,000 million tonnes (MT) of food and allied products are being irradiated in the country.
"These include agricultural produce such as onion, potato, mango, grains and other products such as onion powder, garlic powder, spices, ayurvedic products and animal feed," the report quoting the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) said.
The DAE's comments were submitted to the Committee on June 4 last year.
The report also quoted the DAE as commenting, "Currently 15 irradiation plants are functional in the country. Recent research and development has resulted in harmonisation of food irradiation rules with the international regulation through adoption of class-wise clearance of irradiated food items by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) for large".
According to the United States Food and Drug Administration, astronauts belonging to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) eat meat that has been sterilised by irradiation to avoid getting foodborne illnesses when they fly in space.
"The Committee commends the role played by Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) in food irradiation technology. This technology developed by BARC known as Trombay crop varieties needs to be popularised in the states where they are currently not cultivated," the parliamentary panel said.
Food is irradiated through gamma-rays, X-rays or electron beams.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)