Comparison of three methods for detection of herbal food supplement irradiation

Torben Leth, Hanne Hansen, Flemming Boisen

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


A survey for irradiation of 106 herbal food supplements was carried out in Denmark in 2003. The results from three methods, two screening methods and a specific method, were compared: Direct epifluorescent filter technique/aerobic plate count (DEFT/APC), photostimulated luminescence (PSL) and thermoluminescence (TL) standardised by Comite Europeen de Normalisation (CEN). Forty samples screened positive with the DEFT/APC method. However, the TL method could only confirm irradiation of 15 samples, 11 samples wholly irradiated and 4 samples with a minor irradiated ingredient. Thus, the DEFT/APC method gave a large number of false positive results, although the number of false negative results probably was very low. Only 7 of the 15 confirmed irradiated samples screened positive with the PSL screening method, the samples with low photon counts escaping detection. For 10% of the samples also the TL method was lacking in sensitivity, as not enough minerals could be isolated to get a signal over the minimum detection level. For such clean herbal food supplements no suitable method exists at all among the CEN standardised methods for irradiation detection.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Food Research and Technology
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)39-43
Publication statusPublished - 2006


  • food irradiation detection
  • irradiation
  • photostimulated luminescence
  • thermoluminescence
  • herbal food supplements

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