60% of big municipalities test school meals’ cesium

Kyodo

A recent nationwide survey of 74 major municipalities has found that 44 are testing school meals for radioactive cesium from the Fukushima nuclear crisis.

The 44 municipal governments said they are conducting a variety of tests on school meals, while another six municipalities, including the city of Akita and Morioka, Iwate Prefecture, plan to start tests in the near future.

But the survey found wide divergences based on geographical proximity to the wrecked Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant. Of 42 local governments in 17 eastern prefectures ordered to test produce for radioactive fallout before shipment, 34 were found to be conducting tests on school meals. In the remaining 32 municipalities in other parts of the country, only 10 were.

Deciding whether to test school lunches for contamination is left to the discretion of local governments.

Kyodo News conducted the poll between March 16 and 22 and quizzed municipal boards of education, including in prefectural capitals and Tokyo’s 23 wards.

Some of the 24 municipalities that do not test school lunches said food safety was confirmed via tests before goods hit the market and other data.

The survey also found that seven local governments have adopted lower cesium thresholds for food products than the 100 becquerels per kilogram the central government will introduce Sunday, including Sapporo at 4 becquerels, Yamagata at 10, Fukui and Tokyo’s Adachi and Sumida wards at 40, and Kyoto at 50.