Friday, 30 December 2011

Travelling & Living: Is The Food From Japan Safe?

My snappy doctor friend (see Medical & News: What Causes Cancer? -- Part 1 and Medical & News: What Causes Cancer? -- Part 2), who was not snappy yesterday, is going to visit Japan, and in our recently set up Whatsapp chat group a friend asked if the food in Japan is safe for consumption. This doctor friend said she doesn't care. Then of course, I knew the answer and told her, but she insists on not caring.

Is there anything wrong with her thinking? Nope. Doctors often see life and death as commonplace as missing breakfast. But how about the rest of us?

Many of us thought that as long as the air is clean, like the guy in the movie above, then it will be safe. The fact is of course NOT.

Why not? Because the worst is still in the ground.
Image from
Pay attention to the part which the plants pick up the radioactive elements from the ground, because even if the air is far below the safe limit of radioactive level, like the video below taken in Chernobyl (the region of the Chernobyl Disaster on 26th April 1986), the Geiger counter level started off at a rate lower than Hong Kong's ( roughly 0.200 μSv, microsievert,  for most updated count, see Hong Kong Observatory Ambient Gamma Radiation Level ) and began to signal DANGER when placed next to a patch of grass.

And one of the most dangerous thing to eat? Mushrooms!

As shown and admitted by the Japanese government in the news below.

Then how do I know what food from Japan is safe to eat and what is not? This question suddenly popped up when I picked up two packets of 3.6 Hokkaido milk at a discounted price of $15. I heard those packets on one hand, found a great Android App from Market, check it and then decided to put down the milk.

Which app? FoodSafety -radiation in food-  It is a really good app and I highly recommend you download it and check it when necessary, especially when doing your grocery shopping.
Image from AppBrain
Two things I like this app.

1) It lists out the date of update, the region, the test dates, the food type, the level of iodine (131) and cesium (137) in Bq/kgbecquerel per kilogram

Image from Locky's English Playground
So, from the above screen capture, mushrooms from region Miyagi has been tested on 16th November with radioactive iodine "not detected" ND but 1400 Bq/kg of radioactive cesium. Fukushima, the region of the nuclear plant explosions, has mushroom at 4900 Bq/kg of cesium!!! But the highest is Tochigi with 6940 Bq/kg of cesium!!!! Anyway, they all go under the Red upset face, which means they are over the safety level. Touch them NOT!!!
Image from Locky's English Playground
2) The prescribed safe limits for radioactive elements recommended by Japan's Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare for each type of food are used in this app.

As shown above, the prescribed safe limits for radioactive cesium in milk is 500 Bq/kg. Although the Hokkaido milk gets only 0.1 Bq/kg cesium, I decided to put down the great bargain.

For a detail chart, do read this Bloomberg article.

My snappy doctor friend might not care, but it is your body and your health at the end of the day.

Once again I say, Knowledge is power! The more you know, the better you take good care of yourself and your love ones!

Don't forget to "like" this article and the English Playground

snappy -- (adj) also snappish easily annoyed and often speaking in an angry way
commonplace -- (adj) happening often or often seen or experienced and so not considered to be special
Image from Wikipedia

sievert (Sv) -- (n)[C] the SI unit of equivalent dose. It is the dose of a given type of radiation in Gy that has the same biological effect on a human as 1 Gy of x-rays or gamma radiation. microsievert (μSv), 10 −6 Sv

grocery -- [C] (UK also grocery shop US also grocery storeold-fashioned a grocer's

iodine (131) -- also called radioiodine, is an important radioisotope of iodine. It has a radioactive decay half-life of about eight days. Its uses are mostly medical and pharmaceutical. It also plays a major role as a radioactive isotope present in nuclear fission products, and was a significant contributor to the health hazards from open-air atomic bomb testing in the 1950s, and from the Chernobyl disaster, as well as being a large fraction of the contamination hazard in the first weeks in the Japanese nuclear crisis.

cesium (137) -- is a radioactive isotope of caesium which is formed as a fission product by nuclear fission. It has a half-life of about 30.17 years.

ND -- "not detected"


Geiger Counter Readings from Central Tokyo as of 4pm, 3/17/2011 @ YouTube

Medical & News: What Causes Cancer? -- Part 1 @ Locky's English Playground

Medical & News: What Causes Cancer? -- Part 2 @ Locky's English Playground

Chernobyl Disaster @ Wikipedia

Ionizing Radiation Units @ Wikipedia

Ambient Gamma Radiation Level in Hong Kong(Updated hourly) @ Hong Kong Observatory

Geiger Counter at Chernobyl @ YouTube

Bavarian Mushrooms - Maronen - CS137 and RadioactivityCounter Android App @ YouTube

Radioactive Mushrooms & Typhoon eyes Fukushima 7/17/11 @ YouTube

FoodSafety -radiation in food- @ AppBrain

Specific activity @ Wikipedia

ND @ Wikipedia

Japan Sets Safe Limits for Consuming Radiation-Contaminated Food @