October 31, 2011
Recent tests conducted by the environmental advocacy group Greenpeace have found that more than half of all seafood being sold across eastern Japan is contaminated with radioactive cesium. And because there is no mandatory labeling of food products that have been screened for radiation, Japanese consumers have no idea whether or not the food they continue to purchase and eat is safe.
Greenpeace analysts gathered 60 seafood samples from Japanese grocery stores and supermarkets throughout eastern Japan as part of their investigation. They found that 34 of these samples were contaminated with radioactive cesium-134 and cesium-137, and some at levels up to 88 becquerels per kilogram (Bq/kg).
“While the samples are well below the 500 becquerel per kilogram limit set by the authorities, the contaminated seafood still represents a health risk, especially to pregnant women and children, and it is being distributed over a wide area,” said Wakao Hanaoka, a Greenpeace Japan oceans campaigner, to AFP.
This 500 Bq/kg threshold for radiation, however, is quite high in and of itself, considering that the limit put in place by the Ukraine government after the 1986 Chernobyl disaster was 150 Bq/kg. And for iodine-131, the Japanese government has set the maximum limit to 2,000 Bq/kg, which many say is also too high.
“More concerning, however, is that there is no labeling that notifies consumers if the seafood had been screened, making it impossible for them to make informed decisions,” added Hanaoka concerning the lack of honesty and transparency. “Japanese consumers have legitimate concerns about the food they buy.”
Greenpeace is petitioning the Japanese government to work with the retail industry to indicate whether or not food products have been tested for Fukushima radiation, and if they have, to label the results. The group believes that doing so will not only help to improve consumer confidence in the food supply, but also boost the fishing industry.
It was also recently reported that radiation levels emitted from the Fukushima plant were actually twice as high as government estimates had originally assumed. And one of the radioactive elements detected in much higher quantities was cesium-137, the same substance Greenpeace detected on seafood (http://www.washingtonpost.com/busin…).
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This article was posted: Monday, October 31, 2011 at 3:31 am