Optimizing Irradiation Treatment of Shell Eggs Using Simulation Academic Article uri icon


  • Accurate dose calculation is needed to ensure proper irradiation process control to maintain the freshness of the product. Our objective was to establish the best irradiation treatment for shell eggs taking into account their different components (shell, albumen, yolk). Computer tomography (CT) data were used to generate a 3-D geometry to simulate dose distributions within 1 egg using a radiation transport code (MCNP5). Radiation energies used for simulation were 10 MeV (high-energy) and 1.35 MeV (low-energy) for electron beam, 5 MeV for X-rays, and 1.25 MeV for a gamma-rays source such as Co-60. Low-energy (surface) e-beam simulation indicated that electrons only penetrate up to the thin albumen (0.6 cm). Because of their irregular shape, shell eggs should be irradiated from the side (rather than from top or bottom) for better dose distribution. For high-energy e-beam simulation, the entire egg was irradiated and the best results were obtained when the egg was irradiated from both sides, showing a dose uniformity ratio (D(max)/D(min)) of 1.42. X- or gamma-ray source simulation from one side only, the dose uniformity ratio was 3.38 and 3.12, respectively. For surface-only irradiation, a low-energy e-beam provides a uniform dose distribution. To irradiate the entire egg, 2-sided high-energy e-beam sources are required for an efficient treatment. Unless the product rotates in front of the source, the dose uniformity ratio for X-ray or gamma ray is not adequate for shell egg treatment for pathogen decontamination purposes. Practical Application: Proper control of irradiation treatment of foods such as shell eggs is critical to ensure pathogen inactivation while maintaining product freshness. Simulation allows for accurate calculation of dose distribution within the egg to further establish the best irradiation scheme.

author list (cited authors)

  • Kim, J., Moreira, R. G., & Castellā€Perez, E.

citation count

  • 5

publication date

  • December 2010