Irradiation has advantages as a method of preserving food, especially in the Third World. The author tabulates some examples of actual use of food irradiation with dates and tonnages, and tells the story of the gradual acceptance of food irradiation by the World Health Organization, other international bodies, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (USFDA). At present, the joint IAEA/FAO/WHO standard permits an energy level of up to 5 MeV for gamma rays, well above the 1.3 MeV energy level of /sup 60/Co. The USFDA permits irradiation of any food up to 10 krad, and minor constituents of a diet may be irradiated up to 5 Mrad. The final hurdle to be cleared, that of economic acceptance, depends on convincing the food processing industry that the process is technically and economically efficient.