Success Stories

Gamma processing is proven to be successful for food irradiation and medical device sterilization, as well as a variety of innovative applications like materials modification.

Here a few success stories for each application.

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Food Irradiation

Disinfestation of Spices

From pepper to paprika, from basil to parsley, many spices are disinfected using gamma. Gamma kills insects and prevents food-borne illnesses caused by micro-organisms—without affecting the taste of the spices. The American Spice Trade Association provides guidance on the use of irradiation as a microbial reduction strategy for spices.

Disinfestation of  Food

In some countries, regulatory requirements and consumer demands are restricting the use of chemical phytosanitary treatments required for export of fruits and vegetables. The growing awareness of the dangers of chemicals such as Dimethoate, Fenthion, Methylbromide and other known carcinogens has led countries to review and in some cases suspend their use. These and other drivers have resulted in an increase in irradiation of food products for phytosanitary purposes as an alternative to chemical treatments. To facilitate the irradiation of high-density low-dose product, businesses partner with Nordion to optimize a unique selectable gamma configuration depending on product type.

Consumer Safety through Pathogen Reduction

In some countries, gamma irradiation is used to treat meat and produce against micro-organisms such as E. Coli and Salmonella. Irradiation is for the safety of consumers. Food prepared with meat and produce that has been irradiated is indistinguishable in taste and nutrient level from food prepared with non-irradiated intredients. 

Learn more about the value of gamma to food irradiation.

Medical Devices

Sterilization of Single-use Medical Devices

As the global health care field grows, the need for safe and sterile products is more paramount than ever. Gamma sterilization is a simple, proven process that’s safe, reliable, and highly effective at treating single-use medical devices. With the ability to penetrate products while sealed in their final packaging, gamma sterilization economizes the manufacturing and distribution process, while still ensuring full sterility of the product.

Sterilization of Combination Devices

A combination device is a medical device combined with a tissue or pharmaceutical or other component that falls within one or more regulatory standards, such as drug-eluting stents. Sterilization can affect drug properties and material properties, so sterilization by gamma irradiation is applied to ensure that the combination device’s sterility and functionality are maintained.

Sterilization of Implantable Devices

Implantable devices include orthopedics (e.g. knees), stents, heart valves and more. Metal and polymers present a challenge to some sterilization modalities. Ethylene Oxide (EO) gas, for example, is inefficient because of tight interfaces inherent in plastic to metal transitions in orthopedic devices; for example, E-Beam is ineffective because some implantable devices are high density or heterogeneous in nature. Gamma is highly efficient for sterilization of implantable devices; in fact, the highest percentage of sterilization modalities for orthopedics is gamma. Additionally, many implantable devices are high value and therefore depend on a reliable process to ensure quality control and prevent the potential for lost product due to processing faults.

Learn more about the value of gamma to medical devices.

Innovative Applications

Insect Population Control

Sterile Insect Technique (SIT) was pioneered in the 1950s to control populations of insects that spread disease or impact agricultural crops. Gamma irradiation is used to render male screw-worm flies, tse-tse flies and other fruit flies sterile. Large numbers of sterile males are then released into the wild, dramatically reducing the number of insects in the next generation. Repeated release can eventually wipe out a population of insects. A World Food Prize was awarded to Dr. Raymond Bushland and Dr. Edward Knipling for their development and use of this technique.

Material Modification of Advanced Polymers

Irradiation is commonly used to enhance or change the properties of polymeric material through cross-linking and other mechanisms. For example, irradiation is used to convert high density polyethylene (HDPE) to medical grade ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE) which has specific properties advantageous in orthopedic devices. Irradiation is also used to cross-link the polymeric insulation on wire and cable to enhance features such as temperature rating, insulation properties, tensile strength and abrasion and chemical resistance.

Microbial Reduction for Medical-purpose Marijuana

With government regulations changing to legalize marijuana for medical uses, licensed producers need to ensure the safety of their medicinal product for patients. One of the ways to ensure a product meets regulatory requirements is to use gamma irradiation as a final processing step to reduce the microbial levels. The process is flexible, reliable, versatile, affordable and proven as many producers of medical marijuana are currently using gamma to ensure compliance and safety of their product.

Learn more about how gamma can benefit innovative applications.