Everybody does it. Nuke it! Today on Engineering Works, we’ll find out how the biggest microwave oven you ever thought of makes food and other things safer.
Microwave ovens and food just seem to go together. They’re pretty handy. A minute or so and last night’s leftover fried rice turns into a tasty lunch today.
Food engineers are using a device sort of like a microwave on steroids to rid all kinds of food of unpleasant bacteria like salmonella and E-coli that can make us sick. It’s called irradiation.
Irradiation is causing quite a stir in the world of food. Some people think it’s a great idea. In one simple process, they say, food can be made safe from contamination by bacteria. And you can store irradiated food almost forever.
Other people think it’s scary. As soon as you say irradiation, they start thinking about things that glow in the dark.
Actually, we’ve been irradiating food for a long time; more than 90 years, in fact. And no one’s been contaminated yet by irradiated food. All the food the astronauts eat while flying the space shuttle or circling the globe on the international space station has been irradiated. And you’ve been using irradiated spices and cosmetics for years.
So the next time someone mentions irradiated food think of fried rice and astronauts and dig in. You’re in good company.