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To treat a bulky product such as an entire sack of spices, one would choose gamma rays or X-rays.The energy (otherwise known as ionising radiation) penetrates the food and produces free radicals from the material through which it passes.
One gray corresponds to the absorption of one joule of energy in a mass of one kilogram (1Gy = 1J/kg.) The gray has superseded the older unit - the rad (1Gy = 100 rad).
Within the UK seven categories of foods are cleared for irradiation to specified doses.
Regulations across the world make provision for labelling to ensure that consumers are fully informed whether foods or ingredients within them have been irradiated.
Currently regulations on food irradiation in the European Union are not fully harmonised.
Directive 1999/2/EC establishes a framework for controlling irradiated foods, their labelling and importation, while Directive 1999/3 establishes an initial positive list of foods which may be irradiated and traded freely between Member States.