A method of initiating oxygen scavenging by compositions which comprise oxidizable organic compounds and transition metal catalysts is disclosed. The method comprises initiating scavenging by exposing the composition, etc., to radiation. The radiation exposure is preferably electron beam or ultraviolet light and is preferably used on oxygen scavenging compositions which comprise a substituted or unsubstituted ethylenically unsaturated hydrocarbon and a transition metal catalyst. Inclusion of a photoinitiator or antioxidant in the scavenging composition is also preferred to facilitate and/or control the composition's scavenging properties. The method can be used for initiating scavenging in packaging layers or articles for oxygen sensitive products such as food and beverage.