The Effect of Irradiation on Meat Products

Yea-Ji Kim1, Ji Yoon Cha1, Tae-Kyung Kim1, Jae Hoon Lee1, Samooel Jung1, Yun-Sang Choi1,*
Author Information & Copyright
1Research Group of Food Processing, Korean Food Research Institute, Wanju 55365, Korea.
*Corresponding Author: Yun-Sang Choi. E-mail:

© Copyright 2024 Korean Society for Food Science of Animal Resources. This is an Open-Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Received: Mar 14, 2024 ; Revised: Apr 22, 2024 ; Accepted: Apr 25, 2024

Published Online: May 22, 2024


The effects of irradiation on meat constituents including water, proteins, and lipids are multifaceted. Irradiation leads to the decomposition of water molecules, resulting in the formation of free radicals that can have both positive and negative effects on meat quality and storage. Although irradiation reduces the number of microorganisms and extends the shelf life of meat by damaging microbial DNA and cell membranes, it can also accelerate the oxidation of lipids and proteins, particularly sulfur-containing amino acids and unsaturated fatty acids. With regard to proteins, irradiation affects both myofibrillar and sarcoplasmic proteins. Myofibrillar proteins, such as actin and myosin, can undergo depolymerization and fragmentation, thereby altering protein solubility and structure. Sarcoplasmic proteins, including myoglobin, undergo structural changes that can alter meat color. Collagen, which is crucial for meat toughness, can undergo an increase in solubility owing to irradiation-induced degradation. The lipid content and composition are also influenced by irradiation, with unsaturated fatty acids being particularly vulnerable to oxidation. This process can lead to changes in the lipid quality and the production of off-odors. However, the effects of irradiation on lipid oxidation may vary depending on factors such as irradiation dose and packaging method. In summary, while irradiation can have beneficial effects, such as microbial reduction and shelf-life extension, it can also lead to changes in meat properties that need to be carefully managed to maintain quality and consumer acceptability.

Keywords: irradiation; meat; moisture; protein; lipid