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Radiation Found in Japanese Food

Radiation Found in Japanese Food

Radioactive iodine and cesium was found in spinach and milk as well as other food products in the region of the Fukushima nuclear power plants on Saturday.

The World Health Organization has called the situation serious, and the Japanese government is taking precautions, such as banning shipments of certain produce from Fukushima and neighboring prefectures Ibaraki, Tochigi and Gunma.

The safety measures seem even more warranted in light of lessons learned from the Chernobyl disaster.  Immediately after the 1986 nuclear meltdown, information was lacking or withheld, and an epidemic of more than 6,000 thyroid cancers resulted in children and adolescents who drank milk tainted with radioactivity.

The radioactivity levels in Japan are not likely to rise to Chernobyl levels, and the Japanese government has been stressing that the levels are not harmful. For example, Yukio Edano, the chief cabinet secretary, said that contaminated milk from Fukushima contained radioactive iodine at about five times the legal limit. Putting that into perspective, however, he pointed out that if someone on a typical Japanese diet drank this milk for a whole year, the accumulated radiation would equal that from a single CT scan.

The US Food and Drug Administration has similarly said that food from Japan is currently safe, but will monitor food imports coming in from Japan; indeed, since September 11th, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the U.S. Department of Agriculture blanket screen nearly all U.S. imports, including food, for radiation. Many foreign governments, such as the UAE, India, and Taiwan, are also monitoring foods coming in from Japan.



Rishi Sidhu

Rishi Sidhu is a freelance writer and journalist based in Boston, Massachusetts. He found his love for international relations while teaching English on the Japan Exchange and Teaching program in the rural town of Agematsu in Nagano prefecture. After 2 years in Japan, Rishi traveled to India to study Hindi and pursue his journalism career. He became interested in food security when he first heard people in India complaining about rising food prices and loves the issue because of its impact on all aspects of human society; from health to politics, from environmentalism to global development.