What is ethylene oxide?

Ethylene oxide, a colourless gas, is used as a pesticide and sterilising agent, though the chemical was originally intended to sterilise medical devices.

Exposure to the ethylene oxide is said to cause lymphoma and leukemia among other cancers.

ETO is often used as a sterilizer in order to keep a curb on microbial load. It disrupts the reproductive processes of microorganisms, thus preventing food from getting spoiled.

As ETO is gaseous, it can easily seep into breathable packaging and come in contact with the items that require sterility assuance level. The process of sterilization neutralises yeasts, molds, bacteria (vegetative), and spore formers, in turn extending the shelf life of the food items.

Whenever food sterilized using ethylene oxide is not aerated, it leaves behind a residue. This, in turn, forms toxic compounds like 2-Chloroethanol (2-CE), Ethylene Chlorohydrin (ECH) and Ethylene Glycol (EG).