Sunday, July 10, 2011


Beef with high levels of radiation has been prevented from entering Tokyo's food markets. But only because the meat itself was tested during processing. The earlier pre-shipment external screening of the live cattle had passed them as "safe." According to a government official, this was the first time that excessive levels of radioactive caesium have been found in meat since the start of this Fukushima nuclear crisis in March (still unresolved).

Here are the facts: eleven cattle from a herd in Fukushima prefecture were found to have three to six times the legal limit of radioactive caesium (which can increase cancer risk) in their meat. And these cattle had lived outside the 20-30Km evactuation zone. In fact, they were reportedly moved there to be "safe" from radiation spewing out of Japan's crippled nuclear plant, raised indoors and fed safe food and water.

Alright, high levels of dangerous radionuclides in 11 cattle is not a big issue. Or is it? You could say, that it raises some very unpleasant - but important, questions. Here are some in my mind:

How many other cattle with such high levels of radionuclides actually reached the market? Some 3,000 beef cattle from the same area have also passed external testing for contaminants since April. None - as also in the case of this herd - tested positive for radiation during the initial screening. It seems that their meat was not tested before it was sold and eaten. Was it also above safe levels?
 Is the currently performed random testing of actual market-ready food items sufficient to protect the public? According to a Japan's Ministry of Health spokesman, less than 1% of actual food (including meat, fresh produce, and seafood) is being tested for nuclear contaminants.
 What about other food animals such as swine and poultry? The government of Fukushima prefecture has asked farmers in Minamisouma to refrain from cattle shipments (sounds a bit vague) but no action has been taken or advice given on other poultry or livestock.
 How did these cattle end up with such high levels if they were (as claimed) raised indoors and fed safe food? And what does this imply for other food animals - and humans?

To your good health,

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The issue is what is "safe" food and water? The grass fed to them could have been contaminated by a rain cloud passing over the crippled reactor, or water could have been contaminated from a stream flowing from that region.