I read the Reuters headline in shock:
WHO warns of “serious” food radiation in disaster-hit Japan
This is a level-headed news source, not prone to the kind of deceptive sensationalism you see on other outlets that over-hype everything (Huffington Post is an unfortunate one).
But in this case, about 75% of this article has absolutely nothing to do with food or food contamination. It’s just regurgitation of the standard story that Japan is struggling to contain the damage at the reactor, they’re pumping in tons of water to cool the rods, etc.
But what about the horror of food radiation?
As it turns out, there is no evidence of contaminated food from Fukushima reaching other countries.
Of course, Japan’s health ministry has urged some residents near the plant to stop drinking tap water after high levels of radioactive iodine were detected. This is completely expected, given that they are right beside the nuclear plant.
Isolated cases of contaminated vegetables and milk have caused their government to pause the sale of raw milk from Fukushima prefecture and spinach from a nearby area. Also, a great precaution to take.
But is radioactive food flooding the world food market? Of course not, and not even in Japan itself. For example, there were no major reports of contaminated food in Tokyo, a city of about 13 million people. City officials however said higher-than-standard levels of iodine were found in an edible form of chrysanthemum.
“From reports I have heard so far, it seems that the levels of radioactive iodine and caesium in milk and some foodstuffs are significantly higher than government limits,” said Jim Smith, a specialist in earth and environmental sciences at Britain’s Portsmouth University.
“This doesn’t mean that consumption of these products is necessarily an immediate threat, as limits are set so that foodstuffs can be safely consumed over a fairly long period of time. Nevertheless, for foodstuffs which are found to be above limits, bans on sale and consumption will have to be put in place in the affected areas.”
If you’re concerned about foods you might buy at your local grocery store, don’t be. Just avoid the chrysanthemums for a while!
WHO warns of serious food radiation in disaster-hit Japan | Reuters