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Currently regulations on food irradiation in the European Union are not fully harmonised.
The dose of radiation received is commonly measured in grays.
One gray corresponds to the absorption of one joule of energy in a mass of one kilogram (1Gy = 1J/kg.) The gray has superseded the older unit - the rad (1Gy = 100 rad).
Disruption of these weak hydrogen bonds prevents replication and causes cell death while exerting minimal effects on non-living tissue.
Living organisms deprived of intact DNA or RNA will cease to function.
June 2015 Irradiation, carried out under conditions of Good Manufacturing Practice, is an effective, widely applicable food processing method judged to be safe on extensive available evidence, that can reduce the risk of food poisoning, control food spoilage and extend the shelf-life of foods without detriment to health and with minimal effect on nutritional or sensory quality.
This view has been endorsed by international bodies such as the World Health Organisation, the Food and Agricultural Organisation and Codex Alimentarius.
DNA consists of a very long ladder twisted into a double helix.
The backbone is composed of sugar and phosphate molecules while the rungs of the ladder are comprised of four nucleotide bases (cytosine, thymine, adenine and guanine), which are joined weakly in the middle by hydrogen bonds.
More than 50 countries have given approval for over 60 products to be irradiated.
The USA, China, The Netherlands, Belgium, Brazil, Thailand and Australia are among the leaders in adopting the technology.