The radioactive isotope cobalt-60 has several applications in the industrial world, including food, health and medicine. It is used to sterilize spices and other foods. In hospital settings, it is used for radiotherapy.
Cobalt-60's ability to sterilize foods is due to its emission of gamma rays. They are able to destroy bacteria and other pathogens without destroying the edible product. The technique of using cobalt-60 to sterilize food is sometimes called cold pasteurization. Cobalt-60 is also used to treat abnormal conditions of blood vessels and tumors that would otherwise be inoperable. Additionally, cobalt-60 is used to detect flaws in metal parts in what is known as industrial radiography.