Introduction

The new Regulation on Food Irradiation Treated with Ionising Radiation (“Regulation”) in line with the Directive 1999/2/EC and Directive 1999/3/EC is published by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (“Ministry”) in the Official Gazette dated 3 October 2019 by annulling the former Regulation dated 6 November 1999. The Regulation provides the procedures for the register of the ionising radiation facilities, the treatment of foods and food ingredients with the ionising radiation in these facilities, the release to the market and the surveillance of the market. The Regulation would not be applied to the foods exposed to ionising radiation generated by measuring or inspection devices, provided that the dose absorbed is not greater than 0,01 Gy for inspection devices which utilise neutrons and 0,5 Gy in other cases, at maximum radiation energy level of 10 MeV in the case of X-rays, 14 MeV in the case of neutrons and 5 MeV in other cases and the irradiation of foodstuffs which are prepared for patients requiring sterile diets under medical supervision.

Irradiation Facilities

The real and legal persons who would like to operate an ionising radiation facilities shall obtain a facility license from Nuclear Regulatory Agency (“NRA”) and the certificate of registration from the Ministry. These facilities shall be built complying with the hygiene and radiation safety conditions and be equipped with the necessary technologies. In addition, the facilities are obliged to be operated in line with the regulations of NRA regarding the radiation facilities as well as Regulation with respect to the maintenance of radiation safety.

The facilities for ionising radiation shall provide that;

  • The specific sources of ionising radiation declined in the Article 5 of the Regulation are used in the facilities
  • The employed personnel are educated regarding the ionising radiation
  • The data of the procedure parameters and the results of dosimetric measuring are recorded and preserved
  • The mandatory data is recorded and preserved
  • An indicator in order to distinguish a irradiated product is stick on the packaging

The Records to be Kept by the Facilities

The irradiation facilities must keep a record of below data for each lots of foods treated ionising radiation and these records shall be preserved for 5 years:

  1. The nature, quality and quantity of the irradiated food
  2. Lot number provided by the irradiation facility or the expire date
  3. The process tracking number provided by the irradiation facility
  4. The business demanding the foods to be irradiated
  5. The recipient of the treated foods
  6. The date of irradiation
  7. The packaging materials used during treatment
  8. The data for control of the irradiation process, the dosimetric checks carried out and the results obtained, with details in particular of the limits, lower and upper, of the dose absorbed and the type of ionising radiation
  9. The references to the initial dose validation measurements

Irradiation Rules

Treatment to foods with the ionising radiation is applied in appropriate technological and hygienic conditions with one or more purposes specified below:

  • To prevent the foodborne diseases,
  • To destruct the microorganisms causing spoilage,
  • To prolong the shelf life by preventing or delaying the decay,
  • To decrease the loss of food causing from the germination and maturation,  
  • To defuse the organisms causing damage to the plant or the plant products.

Having these purposes, the irradiation process shall be in line with the hygiene rules provided under the Regulation on the Food Hygiene published in the Official Gazette numbered 28145 and dated 17 December 2011. Besides, the products and the materials are used during the irradiation must be complied with the provisions of the Regulation on the Turkish Food Codex published in the Official Gazette numbered 28157 (3rd repeating) and dated 29 December 2011.

The only sources shall be used for the treatment of foods with ionising radiation are specified under the Article 5 of the Regulation as follows:

  • Gamma rays from radionuclides 60Co or 137 Cs
  • X-rays generated from machine sources operated at or below a nominal energy level of 5 MeV
  • Electrons generated from machine sources operated at or below a nominal energy level of 10 MeV

The overall average absorbed dose shall be calculated in accordance with Annex 4 of the Regulation and the overall average absorbed radiation dose that will be treated to foods shall be determined and according to the limits for each food group and the technological purpose specified under the Annex 2 of the Regulation and the maximum dose fixed in the Annex 2 must not be exceeded. The maximum radiation dose for foods may be given in partial doses, however, the maximum radiation dose fixed in the Annex 2 must not be exceeded.

It is very crucial to mention these; the irradiation treatment may not be used in combination with any chemical treatment having the same purpose and the dosimetry system used for dose measurements shall be in line with the national/international standards.

Retreatment of the Foods with the Ionising Radiation

As a rule, the foods can be treated with ionising radiation for once, however, only foods having low moisture such as dried fruits, legumes and cereals that are irradiated once in order to prevent infestation can be irradiated again. The maximum radiation dose applied during the retreatment of foods must not exceed the maximum radiation dose.

Labelling

Labelling of the foods are regulated under the Regulation of Turkish Food Codex on Labelling and Informing the Consumers numbered 29960 (repeating) and 26 January 2017. The Regulation provides further special obligations to be applied on the labels of the irradiated foods. These further obligations are specified under the Article 11 of the Regulation as follows:

  • The data specified below shall be written on the packaging or the commercial documents:
    • The name, quality and quantity of the irradiated food
    • Lot number provided by the irradiation facility or the expire date
    • The process tracking number provided by the irradiation facility
    • The business demanding the foods to be irradiated
    • The recipient of the treated foods
    • The date of irradiation
    • The packaging materials used during treatment
  • In the case of products intended for the ultimate consumer and mass caterers:
    • (a) If the products are sold as packaged, the words “irradiated” or “treated with ionising radiation” and the international food irradiation symbol “Radura” shall appear on the label as it can easily be seen.
    • (b) If the products are sold as unpackaged, the words “irradiated” or “treated with ionising radiation” and the international food irradiation symbol “Radura” shall appear on the label or on the accompanying commercial documents.
    • Above conditions also applies to the products did not intend for the ultimate consumer and mass caterers.
  • In the case of products packaged on the ultimate consumer’s request, the words “irradiated” or “treated with ionising radiation” shall be seen by the consumer and or shall be presented to the consumer with the product.
  • If an irradiated product is used as an ingredient, the same words shall accompany the name of the ingredient.

Import of the Irradiated Products

The import of the irradiated foods and food ingredient is only permitted if the treatment is applied in the irradiation facilities approved by the Ministry. The eligibility criteria for these facilities is determined by the Ministry and the list of the approved irradiation facilities are published on the website of the Ministry.

The irradiation facilities approved by the European Union are considered as the irradiation facilities approved by the Ministry and added to the list of approved facilities of the Ministry. The Ministry is authorised to conduct on-site audits on these facilities when it is deemed to be necessary.

During the import proceedings, the data listed under the Article 10 and the name and address of the irradiation facility that the treatment is applied to the imported products shall be issued.

Mentionable Provisions

  • Related provisions of the Regulation on the Turkish Food Codex published in the Official Gazette numbered 28157 (3rd repeating) and dated 29 December 2011 will be applied to the transportation and storage of the irradiated products.
  • The facility owners are responsible for providing the traceability of the irradiated products during the all stages of the raw material procurement, export, import, production, processing and release to the market.
  • Official supervisions are conducted by the Ministry in accordance with the Regulation on the Official Supervisions of the Foodstuff and Feedstuff published in the Official Gazette numbered 28145 and dated 17 December 2011.
  • The irradiation facilities are supervised by the NRA in terms of radiation safety pursuant to the related regulations of NRA.

Compliance Process

The irradiation facilities which have been operating before the Regulation is published are entitled to be complied with the provisions of the Regulation until 31 December 2020.