Volatile Sulfur Compounds in Foods as a Result of Ionizing Radiation
Ionizing radiation improves food safety and extends shelf life by inactivating food-borne pathogens and spoilage microorganisms. However, irradiation may induce the development of an off-odor, particularly at high doses. The off-odor has been called “irradiation odor”. Substantial evidence suggests that volatile sulfur compounds (VSCs) play an important role in the development of the off-odor. These compounds include hydrogen sulfide, methanethiol, methyl sulfide, dimethyl disulfide and dimethyl trisulfide among others. The formation of off-odor and VSCs due to irradiation in meat, and fruit juices is presented. It is known that irradiation exerts its effect through radiolysis of water in foods where water is a dominant component. Irradiation of water produces three primary free radicals: hydroxyl, hydrogen atoms, and hydrated electrons. Use of specific scavengers in a model system revealed that hydroxyl radicals are involved in the formation of VSCs. Possible mechanisms for formation of VSC are also discussed. Also discussed are possible remedies for formation of VSCs and off-odor, such as use of antioxidants and double packaging.
This article is from ACS Symposium Series 1068 (2011): 243, doi:10.1021/bk-2011-1068.ch012.