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Nuclear Radiation in Food: How Much is Too Much ?

Nuclear_Radiation_Food_How_Much_Permissible Japan is presently under nuclear emergency due to accidents in Fukushima I, Nuclear Power Plant as a consequence of massive earthquake followed by powerful tsunami on March 11, 2011.

The radioactive fallout from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant has triggered

  • evacuation of all residents within 20 km of the nuclear power plant.
  • an indefinite ban by the Japanese government on March 21, 2011 to use local food items as nuclear radiation was detected in the local food items such as milk, spinach, ‘kakina’ a locally grown green vegetable and other local vegetables including drinking water in Fukushima and neighboring prefectures (Ibaraki, Gunma and Tochigi prefectures).
    • spinach cultivated at farms in Hitachi, Ibaraki Prefecture, was found to have 54,000 becquerels of radioactive iodine per kg, or 27 times the legal limit.
    • milk was found to have 5,250 becquerels of radioactive iodine per kg of milk from the village of Iitate in Fukushima, or about 17 times above the permissible standard.
    • tap water in the village Iitate in Fukushima contained three times the allowable limit for iodine.
  • directing the farm ministry to instruct farmers in other parts of Japan to raise output to keep supply balanced with demand.

Here are the permissible limits of radiation in food items as laid down by the Japanese government (indices relating to limits on food and drink ingestion)

Radioactive iodine

Drinking water 300 Bq/kg
Milk, dairy products* 300 Bq/kg
Vegetables except root vegetables and tubers 2000 Bq/kg

Radioactive cesium

Drinking water 200 Bq/kg
Milk, dairy products 200 Bq/kg
Vegetables 500 Bq/kg
Grains 500 Bq/kg
Meat, eggs, fish etc., 500 Bq/kg


Infant foods 20 Bq/kg
Drinking water 20 Bq/kg
Milk, dairy products 20 Bq/kg
Vegetables 100 Bq/kg
Grains 100 Bq/kg
Meat, eggs, fish etc., 100 Bq/kg

Alpha-emitting nuclides of plutonium and transuranic elements

Infant foods 1 Bq/kg
Drinking water 1 Bq/kg
Milk, dairy products 1 Bq/kg
Vegetables 10 Bq/kg
Grains 10 Bq/kg
Meat, eggs, fish etc., 10 Bq/kg

* Provide guidance so that materials exceeding 100 Bq/kg are not used in milk supplied for use in powdered baby formula or for direct drinking to baby.

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