Wednesday, February 1, 2012

(Updated) Food in Japan: Radioactive Cesium from Mandarin Oranges, Milk Industry to Test Milk, and Octopus Found with Body Parts

As days go by, food in Japan doesn't look very appetizing, to say the least.

1. Radioactive mandarin orange from Kanagawa Prefecture

Radioactive cesium was found from the edible part of mandarin oranges (which in the US are called "satsuma" for some reason) and the skin. Security Tokyo is a private testing laboratory that uses the high-precision germanium semiconductor detector, not one of those fly-by-night testing "laboratories" cropping up in Japan (like the one who claimed to have "measured" high radioactive "iodine" in the snow in Hachioji. Totally false. Did I write about it? I don't remember...)

But here's the data from Security Tokyo:

Item: mandarin orange from Odawara City, Kanagawa Prefecture, purchased in a supermarket in Yokohama City
Date tested: January 31, 2012
Edible part:

  • Iodine-131: ND
  • Cesium-134: 2.7 becquerels/kg
  • Cesium-137: 3.3 becquerels/kg
  • Total cesium: 6 becquerels/kg
Outer skin:
  • Iodine-131: ND
  • Cesium-134: 8.2 becquerels/kg
  • Cesium-137: 9.8 becauerels/kg
  • Total cesium: 18 becquerels/kg

The spectrum graph from Security Tokyo, with their permission:

Some Japanese people do use skin of the orange for other purposes than eating. Let's see, if each mandarin orange weighs 50 gram, it would take 20 oranges to reach 6 becquerels of radioactive cesium. If you eat 4 oranges at a time, it takes 5 servings to get 6 becquerels. In the big scheme of things in Japan these days, that may not much for many people, but there may be people who do not want to eat and do not want to have their toddlers eat this mandarin orange particularly when they still have a choice of buying from western Japan.

(Oh wait... If the skin is also radioactive, does that mean you would get radioactive cesium by peeling it by hand?)

Before the Fukushima accident, the amount of radioactive cesium in mandarin orange was ND (measuring Hokkaido's orange, information from Japan Chemical Analysis Center).

2. Milk Industry agrees to test milk to win trust from the customers. (Too late.)

The milk industry, which has adamantly refused to test milk that is sold in the marketplace and insisted that the raw milk tests done by the prefectures in Tohoku and Kanto are more than sufficient, now says it will test the milk it sells in the market to assure safety and trust. After more than 10 months, with actual detections of radioactive cesium in milk sold in the market.

From the announcement by the Japan Dairy Industry Association (emphasis is mine):

After the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident and the resultant contamination of the environment with radioactive materials, there has been a heightened interest among consumers in the food safety.

There will be a new set of safety standards for radioactive materials to be enacted in April to provide tighter control over the food safety.

Our stance has always been that our milk and milk products are made from the safe raw milk that undergoes monitoring tests [i.e. sample test] by the municipalities and therefore there is no need to test the final products. Judging from the levels of radioactive materials detected in the final products, we believe our products will conform to the new standard with no problem.

However, there has been a strong demand to test milk for school lunch and release the test results from the citizens, and the Ministry of Health and Labor has subsequently requested us to make the test results public.

Even though our thinking about testing hasn't changed, we've decided that it is appropriate to test milk at this juncture to make sure it tests below the new standard and to win the trust from our customers and make them feel at ease.

Therefore, on the following schedule, we will conduct the test and publish the results.

Oh how nice of them.

They will let you know at the end of February. People who have been pushing for testing the milk has nothing to say other than "Why bother at this point?"

3. Octopus with hair, nail, wristwatch

Lastly, a little macabre "hearsay" if you will, from someone who lives in Fukushima tweeting. From scanning her tweets I don't see any good reason for her to fabricate stories:

タコの加工業者さん タコを解体していると タコの中から髪の毛や爪がでてくるそうです...(消化されないから)板前さんも タコの中から腕時計が出てきたそうです。 雑食のタコは何でも食べるから...ウニも雑食らしいが 今年のウニは大きいって

I was told by someone in the business of processing octopuses. As he dismembers the octopuses he finds human hair and nails (because they don't get digested). A restaurant chef told me he found a wristwatch in an octopus. Octopuses are omnivores. I hear that "uni" (sea urchin) is also omnivores, and that they are big this year.

Other people have quickly chimed in, telling her that's quite normal; every fisherman knows that's how it goes after a big tsunami, they say.


Morgaine said...

I've never trusted ocupus/i. They come loaded for bear. They have 8 arms, for heaven's sake.

On a serious note, I'm glad nature is doing what nature does: recycling and reusing.

Anonymous said...

Blehhhck. Why eat recycled human remains in octopus flesh when you can just make soylent green directly? There's good money in this. Come on Japanese researchers, stop playing around with making edible protein out of human waste and get to the basics.

farfromhome said...

So if you are eating octopus, you may be eating a missing relative. uhhhhh...

Seriously, what amazes me is that so many people are not in the least concerned about food safety. I used t think Japan was so safe, but now I see that it is going down the path of the US. Oh to have land where I can grow my own food - just not octopus!!

Anonymous said...

Octopus can be grown??

Anonymous said...

I'm still finding it difficult to inform anyone about the dangers of radiation and the current state of Japan. They all argue that it must be safe because - to their knowledge - no immediate effects have occurred, or that it's so far away that it won't affect us. They even argue that any negative information about the radiation in Japan is "fear-mongering". They're so focused on the importance of their everyday lives that they lack the ability to comprehend the true scale of the situation.

For me, it's not about "fear-mongering". I'm not really scared of the radiation. I'm just annoyed that I, all of my favorite artists and a ton of innocent people are slowly being fatally poisoned by a bunch of ignorant, money-hungry liars, and that most people are too naive, selfish and soaked in denial to care, whilst the ones that do care are branded as "fear-mongers".

This whole situation is epic fail.

Anonymous said...

It doesn't quite help that there are truly "fear mongering" English websites good at dredging the most sensational falsehood from blogs and twitters and spreading it as "fact" without any attempt to verify the info.

Atomfritz said...

Really would like to know how much "free added value" Fukushima, Miyagi or Ibaraki mandarin oranges contain.
Or don't these prefectures grow mandarin oranges?

arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

@Atomfritz, mandarin oranges are grown mostly in west of Kanto. I've never seen mandarin oranges from Tohoku or northern Kanto like Ibaraki.

Jeny said...

It is nice......Health Food Store Warwick QLD

kintaman said...

What do you of the state of Okinawa at this time in terms of contamination? Is it somewhat better off than the mainland at this time?

sakuramane2004 said...

RADIOACTIVE CESIUM 134 and 137 found in pork served in school lunch in YOKOSUKA. They stopped serving beef and replaced all recipes that called for beef with pork and chicken as if that would make us parents feel better. It frustrates me that they(gov) think we are stupid. Judging by the fact that at my kids' elem school, only 2 families including mine, send lunch from home, they seem to be right.

Justin Chan said...

Wow what an awesome mindblowing post about Radioactive mandarin orange from Kanagawa Prefecture.
Its so good.

Health Food Store Warwick QLD

Dairy Products Market said...

Very encouraged in reading your blog post really some good news has been stuff on your blog regarding "Radioactive mandarin orange from Kanagawa Prefecture". Thanks for discussing and will be awaiting some more exciting post. Japan Milk Market

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