More than 5,000 jars of organic wild blueberry jam made in Italy have been intercepted and recalled by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government in Japan after multiple batches of the fruit spread tested positive for unacceptable levels of radioactive cesium-137. According to the Japanese news source Shukan Asahi, the blueberries used in the Fiordifrutta brand jam, which originated in Bulgaria, were affected by radiation not from a recent nuclear event like Fukushima but rather from the infamous Chernobyl nuclear disaster of 1986.
This shocking revelation came as officials began tracing the source of the contaminated fruit, which tested as high as 164 becquerels (Bq) per kilogram (kg) of cesium-137, according to the paper. Located some 1,300 kilometers (800 miles) away, the fields where the tainted blueberries were grown somehow came into contact with residual radiation from an accident that took place nearly 30 years ago, illustrating the harrowing long-term effects of nuclear disasters.
A popular commodity in Tokyo, Fiordifrutta jam is an otherwise high-quality food product that contains no processed sugars, is certified organic and bears the Non-GMO Project label of purity. It is also routinely rated as one of the best tasting jams on the market and looks like the type of thing one might find on the shelf of a reputable health food store. All of this makes it that much more disturbing that the jam’s contents somehow ended up tainted with an invisible poison that is likely to become even more common as a result of Fukushima.
“The reality is that pollution caused by the Chernobyl nuclear accident 27 years ago is still upon us,” reads a rough English translation of the Shukan Asahi report.
Very little imported food is tested for radiation, so contamination rates could be far higher
The paper admits that only a tiny fraction, less than 10 percent, of food imported into the country is tested for radiation. This means that there could be far more affected products than just the jam that millions of people could be consuming unwittingly. And since countries like the U.S. and many in Europe have lower radiation standards for food, this is even more of a possibility in Japan.
“The US limit is 1,200 bq/kg and [the] EU limit is 600 bq/kg, so the product is unlikely to be recalled in the USA,” writes Mead Rose for WhatIsRadiation.com, noting that detected radiation levels in the Fiordifrutta jam were well below these thresholds.
Still, others insist that the radiation levels detected are hardly a cause for concern. One anonymous commenter giving his two cents on the Shukan Asahi report claims that one would have to consume 470 kg of the jam, or about 1,800 jars, to receive a dose of radiation equivalent to 1 millisievert (mSv), which is considered to be the maximum acceptable public exposure level for one year.
“The point here is that the contamination comes from the Chernobyl catastrophe of 1986,” adds Rose. “For people that are paying attention, this illustrates the ever-growing nature of the problems at the Fukushima Daiichi site, which promises to contaminate the entire Pacific Basin over the next 7 years or so.”
The original Shukan Asahi report in Japanese can be accessed here:
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