Perhaps you are like most people when it comes to thinking about things in this world that get x-rayed. For most people, the idea of using an x-ray machine goes no further than a medical setting. People get x-rays every day for injuries, dental work, and other medical reasons.
If you have ever had an injury that required the doctors to order an x-ray on a part of your body, you were likely required in the x-ray room to wear a special vest or blanket to shield you from the potential harm of the x-ray machine. We know that some x-rays can damage DNA in the human body, so the utmost protection must be given to every patient who needs one.
What if you were told that some of the very food you are eating is being put under a food x-ray machine before it is sold to you and others at the market? Based on what you know about a regular x-ray machine that is used in hospitals and doctor’s offices, you might think a food x-ray machine is a completely ridiculous idea. That would be understandable, but the truth is, there is much more to the story of the food x-ray machine than you might think.
For generations go by, many people died each year from food related illnesses. In the last 100 years, the number of deaths every year relating to food deaths have gone down substantially because of advancements in the areas of refrigeration and food preparation, among others. Even so, one out of every six people in the United States gets sick, over 125,000 are admitted to the hospital, and 3,000 die from foodborne diseases every year.
Refrigeration advancements have helped by keeping bacteria from growing and multiplying. Making sure refrigerators and freezers are cold enough to do the job means that refrigerators should be set at temperatures no higher than 40 degrees Fahrenheit and freezers should be set at 0 degrees Fahrenheit.
Those are not the only advancements being made in the fight against foodborne disease and illness, however. Metal detectors are now able to detect three main types of metallic contaminants in food, in an effort to keep our food clean. Those contaminants are Ferrous, Non-Ferrous, and Stainless Steel.
But, what about the x-ray machines for food inspection? How does that fit in and how is it not harmful?
First of all, the food x-ray machine is used to detect bones and other foreign objects in food that could very easily cause serious harm to anyone who ingests them. When you think about it, that sounds like a great idea, right? But, how can the same technology that requires you to wear a lead vest to protect you from harmful rays be any good for your food?
There is a difference between something that has radiation pass through it and something that is exposed to radioactive material. For example, radiation passes through our bodies for x-rays and through food for inspection, but it comes in such small doses that it is not harmful. Food that comes in contact with radioactive material from a power plant that has gone bad, though, is hit with a very dangerous amount of radiation.
The waves that come through food while being inspected for bones and other particles are virtually undetectable, making it much safer even than an x-ray you might get to determine whether or not you have a broken bone in your foot.