Plants and their extracts or isolated compounds have various applications, especially as food additives and as health promoters, as ingredients in formulations of functional foods and nutraceuticals, in food and pharmaceutical industry. However, these products may be contaminated by soil, water, air and powder, not only during the growth process but also during harvest and drying. Microbial contamination will reduce their quality and shelf life, and pose a threat to public health, due to the presence of pathogenic bacteria.
One technology that has shown an increasing application is irradiation, a physical non-thermal process, which in addition to significantly reducing microbial load, is a simple, modern, and clean method authorized in several countries, including in Europe (Directive 1999/2/EC). Irradiation is being used as a feasible processing technology for various purposes: disinfestation, decontamination, sterilization or shelf-life extension of food products. However, this method must be validated for each matrix since the results vary significantly with the type of food, radiation dose, food geometry (which affects dose uniformity), in order to understand how the major nutrients are preserved and simultaneously guarantee the microbial decontamination.