Yesterday Japan retroactively upgraded the danger level from the nuclear plants that have been releasing radiation into the atmosphere. Today, radiation was found in food 90 miles from the nuclear sites. Officials in Japan tried to downplay the risks to consumers from the food:
Yukio Edano, the chief cabinet secretary, said that spinach and milk were the only products found to have abnormally high radiation levels. The level of radioactivity found in the spinach would, if consumed for a year, equal the radiation received in a single CAT scan, he said, while that detected in milk would amount to just a fraction of a CAT scan.
“These levels do not pose an immediate threat to your health,” Mr. Edano said, adding that the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry would provide additional details. “Please stay calm.”
Even experts here in U.S. jumped into the “it’s safe to eat” game:
The iodine levels are well beyond what the Food and Drug Administration in the United States considers a cause for concern. But experts say Japan’s reassurances about food safety were probably accurate.
Dr. Harold M. Swartz, a professor of medicine at Dartmouth who studies radiation exposure in people, said that the contamination levels were low and that the government’s advice was “probably reasonable.” But, he added, because people are so afraid of radiation, they are likely to avoid these foods altogether.
However, Dr. David J. Brenner, director of the Center for Radiological Research at Columbia University, said, “Seems unnecessaryto eat these foods, I wouldn’t.”
Personally, I would lean towards the better safe than sorry mode and avoid any food contaminated by radiation. Radioactive food just doesn’t sound at all appetizing. The dangers from radiation exposure are all well know at this point, Japan really does appear to be downplaying all of this in so many ways, as do many here in the U.S.. Stay tuned…
In other news from Japan… This is heartbreaking: In Japan’s Danger Zone, the Stranded Await the Merciful.
And this is not good… not good at all: Japan crisis more challenging than Three Mile Island.