Research shows that food irradiation is a safe food technology effective in reducing pathogenic microorganisms, prolonging shelf-life, and controlling pests, such as fruit flies, to avoid quarantine. However, this technology may not be understood widely by food industry professionals. The purpose of this research was to study the effectiveness of professional development designed with a variety of experiential education strategies targeting food industry regulators, Extension agents, and others in the food industry. The workshop,
Improving Safety of Complex Food Items Using Electron Beam Technology,included presentations by experts in food irradiation technology, tours of food irradiation facilities, group activities, and a taste-test of irradiated meats and produce. Data were collected from 19 males and 3 females in the paired workshop pre- and post-tests which assessed participants' knowledge, perceptions, and concerns about food safety and food irradiation, using Likert-type scales. The workshop produced significant knowledge gains. Respondents' perceptions of food safety and food irradiation issues were improved significantly as a result of participation in the workshop. Also, respondents' perceived knowledge and understanding of food safety, food irradiation, and the technology behind food irradiation improved significantly upon completion of the workshop and post-test.