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Food from the Fukushima region largely safe to eat

Only venison and wild boar from Japan should undergo further testing and should not be consumed unless declared safe, according to the BfS recommendation

Apart from venison and wild boar, food from the Fukushima region can be regarded as safe. This is the result of an assessment performed by experts at the Federal Office for Radiation Protection (BfS). The European Commission announced recently that the import restrictions on food from Japan following the Fukushima reactor accident that happened six years ago might be loosened after the summer break.

The persistent high exposure of venison and wild boar tallies with the experience gained after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986. The potential loosening of export restrictions for certain food from the Fukushima prefecture will not apply to venison and wild boar anyway, however. Restrictions might be loosened for molluscs and crustaceans, several types of fish as well as for rice and rice products.

BfS cooperates and networks with different international bodies and used its expertise to support the Japanese authorities, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the UN after the Fukushima reactor accident.

99 per cent of controlled food is safe

Monitoring personnel wearing face masks performs checks on rice bags in Fukushima Rice testing FukushimaRice bags are tested for contamination in Fukushima

The Japanese authorities have performed tests on different types of food and have observed that the radioactive contamination of agricultural food is rather low six years after the nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Rice production in the Fukushima prefecture, for example, is completely monitored. 10 to 11 million rice bags are controlled every year, according to the Japanese authorities. In the last two years, not a single bag showed an activity concentration that would have exceeded the applicable strict limit values.

Samples from other types of food that were examined also revealed no or very few cases that exceeded the limit values. The only exception: venison and wild boar. In 2016, the Japanese authorities tested a total of 31,845 food samples for a potential contamination. 290 samples showed values that exceeded the Japanese limits for food. The majority (280) of the rejected samples were samples taken from wild animals' meat, in particular wild boar (255).

Contamination of venison and wild boar recedes slowly

The current situation in Japan reflects the observations made in Germany and Central Europe after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986. While the contamination of agricultural products decreased rather soon after the accident, the contamination of wild mushrooms as well as venison and in particular wild boar receded very slowly and is still evident today.

In some parts of Germany, certain types of mushrooms, game and wild boar show a considerable caesium-137 contamination (which is a long-live radionuclide) even today. The most affected region is the Southern part of Germany, in particular Southern Bavaria and the Bavarian Forest. Values of up to several thousand Becquerel per kilogramme were observed in venison and wild boar as well as in certain edible mushrooms from this region in the last few years. The same holds true for wild boar meat from Japan, with the activity of radiocaesium receding very slowly.

State of 2017.07.14

© Bundesamt für Strahlenschutz