National

Five years on, tests find no radioactive cesium in Fukushima meals

by Mizuho Aoki

Staff Writer

A consumers’ organization in Fukushima Prefecture has found no traces of radioactive cesium in meals produced by households in Fukushima Prefecture for a second straight year.

It tested meals prepared by residents with locally grown products and cooked in regular tap water. The findings underscore declining contamination in food five years after the nuclear disaster.

The annual study, conducted by Co-op Fukushima, checked for the presence of cesium-137 and 134 in meals prepared by 100 households in Fukushima over two consecutive days. The sampling was done between July last year and February.

The co-op asked each participant to prepare an extra portion when they cooked meals for their family.

Most of the participants used locally grown produce and tap water, but no cesium was found in the meals for the second year in a row, according to the report released Tuesday.

Given the result, the co-op said the likelihood of Fukushima residents continuously eating cesium-tainted meals is “extremely low.”

A similar survey conducted recently by the Japanese Consumers’ Co-operative Union (JCCU) also detected no radioactive cesium. It checked meals from 263 households in 19 prefectures, including Tokyo, Fukushima and Kanagawa.

Given the availability of such data, some countries have been easing restrictions on imported Japanese food imposed since the disaster.

In January, the European Union relaxed controls on imports, removing its requirement for some food items from Fukushima, including vegetables, livestock and tea, to be shipped with radiation inspection certificates.

But Japan is struggling to dispel lingering fears in some quarters over the safety of produce from Fukushima and other regions affected by the disaster.

In February, a government event in Seoul aimed at promoting food from Tohoku was cancelled at the last minute when South Korean civic groups lodged a protest over a plan to serve food from Fukushima.

Given such strong anxiety, South Korea has restricted seafood imports from eight prefectures, including Fukushima, Ibaraki, Gunma and Miyagi, since September 2013.

As of February, 12 nations, including South Korea, Taiwan, and the U.S., still had some kind of ban in place, according to the agricultural ministry data.

Many other countries, such as Indonesia, allow imports but require radiation inspection certificates or documents showing the prefecture of origin, the ministry said.

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