Effects of gamma radiation on raspberries: safety and quality issues

J Toxicol Environ Health A. 2013;76(4-5):291-303. doi: 10.1080/15287394.2013.757256.


There is an ever-increasing global demand from consumers for high-quality foods with major emphasis placed on quality and safety attributes. One of the main demands that consumers display is for minimally processed, high-nutrition/low-energy natural foods with no or minimal chemical preservatives. The nutritional value of raspberry fruit is widely recognized. In particular, red raspberries are known to demonstrate a strong antioxidant capacity that might prove beneficial to human health by preventing free radical-induced oxidative stress. However, food products that are consumed raw, are increasingly being recognized as important vehicles for transmission of human pathogens. Food irradiation is one of the few technologies that address both food quality and safety by virtue of its ability to control spoilage and foodborne pathogenic microorganisms without significantly affecting sensory or other organoleptic attributes of the food. Food irradiation is well established as a physical, nonthermal treatment (cold pasteurization) that processes foods at or nearly at ambient temperature in the final packaging, reducing the possibility of cross contamination until the food is actually used by the consumer. The aim of this study was to evaluate effects of gamma radiation on raspberries in order to assess consequences of irradiation. Freshly packed raspberries (Rubus idaeus L.) were irradiated in a (60)Co source at several doses (0.5, 1, or 1.5 kGy). Bioburden, total phenolic content, antioxidant activity, physicochemical properties such as texture, color, pH, soluble solids content, and acidity, and sensorial parameters were assessed before and after irradiation and during storage time up to 14 d at 4°C. Characterization of raspberries microbiota showed an average bioburden value of 10(4) colony-forming units (CFU)/g and a diverse microbial population predominantly composed of two morphological types (gram-negative, oxidase-negative rods, 35%, and filamentous fungi, 41%). The inactivation studies on the raspberries mesophilic population indicated a one log reduction of microbial load (95% inactivation efficiency for 1.5 kGy), in the surviving population mainly constituted by filamentous fungi (79-98%). The total phenolic content of raspberries indicated an increase with radiation doses and a decrease with storage time. The same trend was found for raspberries' antioxidant capacity with storage time. Regarding raspberries physicochemical properties, irradiation induced a significant decrease in firmness compared with nonirradiated fruit. However, nonirradiated and irradiated fruit presented similar physicochemical and sensory properties during storage time. Further studies are needed to elucidate the benefits of irradiation as a raspberries treatment process.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antioxidants / analysis
  • Antioxidants / radiation effects
  • Colony Count, Microbial
  • Food Irradiation*
  • Food Microbiology
  • Food Preservation / methods*
  • Fruit / radiation effects*
  • Fruit / standards
  • Gamma Rays*
  • Phenols / radiation effects
  • Rosaceae / radiation effects*


  • Antioxidants
  • Phenols