Is x-ray harmful for food?

The detection of physical defects and contaminants using X-ray technology is an important part of quality control for specific food businesses.

European Food Information Council (EUFIC)

At AIS, we use advanced x-ray technology to inspect food for physical contaminants and for quality control.

X-ray inspection of food does not cause it to become radioactive1. X-ray inspection which delivers a dose of less than 0.5 Gy to food products is permitted under EU Directive 1999/2/EC. The typical dose for an x-ray linescan system, such as at AIS, is less than 0.2 milli-Gy.

Consumers should experience no change in food quality other than improvement by the removal of undesirable contamination; a statement supported by leading brands across the world.

Scientific evidence

A study by the World Health Organisation (WHO) proved that food that has passed through an x-ray inspection system remains safe to eat and loses none of its nutritional value.

  • The World Health Organisation (WHO) study in 1997 confirms that food radiation levels up to 10,000 Gy does not affect food safety or nutritional value
  • The dose levels used in x-ray inspection are less than one ten millionth of those used in the WHO study
  • This level is so low that organic food can be subject to x-ray inspection with no diminution of its organic status

In comparison, the dose level for food irradiation (to destroy bacteria) is much higher.
(1) For further information please read our dedicated FAQs page – “How safe is X-ray Inspection?” – describing the differences between food x-ray inspection and food irradiation.