Japan's Radiation Council approves stricter limits on amount of radioactive cesium permitted in food, clearing way for nation's health ministry to begin enforcing new limits in April

LOS ANGELES , February 20, 2012 () – Japan’s Radiation Council, a division of the government’s science ministry, has approved stricter limits on the amount of radioactive cesium that is permitted in food, clearing the way for the Japanese health ministry to begin enforcing the new cesium limits in April, The Japan Times reported Feb. 17.

In order to ensure the safety of food, the new limits are premised on the false assumption that, following nuclear explosions at Fukushima last March, a majority of Japan’s food products are tainted with cesium, the Radiation Council said.

The council also stressed that food containing cesium levels that are slightly higher than the new limits would have not have much of an impact on human health.

Depending upon the food category, the revised cesium limits have been reduced to between one-twentieth and one-quarter of the amounts that are currently allowed.

The acceptable amount of cesium in normal food items such as meat and rice, currently set at 500 becquerels per kilogram, have been lowered to 100 becquerels per kilogram. The revised limits restrict the amount of cesium in infant food and milk to 50 becquerels per kilogram, while drinking water will be permitted to contain 10 becquerels per kilogram.

The 100 becquerels per kilogram limit for normal food items is safe even for small children, said Otsura Niwa, the head of the Radiation Council.

The revised limits are aimed to reduce the amount of total internal cesium exposure from food, currently set at 5 millisieverts annually, to an annual level of less than 1 millisievert.

The Japanese health ministry asked the Radiation Council to consider whether the reductions were appropriate after first proposing them in December.

The primary source of this article is The Japan Times, Tokyo, Japan, on Feb. 17, 2012.

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