Monthly Archives: March 2011

Food Contaminated by Radioactive Substances

To: Food Safety Commission

From: Food Safety Citizens Watch & Consumers Union of Japan

March 24, 2011


Regarding Limits for Radioactive Substances in Food

On March 20, Japan’s Food Safety Commission received a request from the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare for opinions regarding regulation limits for radioactive materials in the Food Sanitation Law. A meeting to discuss the levels was held on March 23, 2011, and it was decided that decisions would be made within one week.

We regard this as a very important issue from the perspective of public health and we request that you take note of and carefully evaluate the following points:

1. It must be assumed that radioactive cesium and radioactive iodine are carcinogens.

2. The long-term effects on internal organs and the body must be considered.

3. We respectfully ask you to refer to the WHO guidelines for environmental disasters and health (2003) and the Codex Alimentarius report on common criteria concerning pollutants and toxins in food and feed.

4. Also, specifically regarding drinking water, please refer to the WHO guidelines for environmental disasters and health (2003).

5. Exposure to infants from mother’s milk should be considered.

6. The accumulation of radioactive substances from water pollution in the feeding chain should be considered.

7. Soil contamination should be considered.

8. The evaluation should continue even after the current emergency situation ends.

Furthermore, we are concerned that the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare should have consulted with the Food Safety Commission before setting provisional regulation levels for the radioactive substances (including cesium, iodine, uranium and plutonium) in food. These levels were temporarily set on March 17, 2011 (see link below) without prior consultation.

We request that you reflect on why no regulation limits have been set for radioactive substances until now.

Link: MHLW Press Release March 17, 2011: Handling of food contaminated by radioactivity (pdf)

Earthquake and Tsunami in Tohoku: Urgent Proposal for Emergency Measures for Pregnant Women and Children

To: Kan Naoto, Prime Minister of Japan

From: Tomiyama Yoko, Chairperson, Consumers Union of Japan (NPO)

March 18, 2011

Urgent Proposal Regarding Emergency Measures for Pregnant Women and Children in the Tohoku Region

Consumers Union of Japan is committed to a sound and healthy future for our children. We rely only on individual membership fees as the basis for our activities, thus ensuring the independence of our ideas as an NPO.

We feel very strongly for the people who have been affected by the huge earthquake and tsunami in the Tohoku region of Japan. There is very serious damage in many parts of the region. We are very concerned about the grave situation caused by the damage to the nuclear reactors at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant. We are feeling particularly apprehensive about the influence of radioactivity on the residents in their immediate vicinity.

Since Consumers Union of Japan was founded in April, 1969, we have strongly appealed against nuclear power generation on the basis that radioactivity cannot coexist with living beings. There are no safe limits. We have tried to stop nuclear power before such a serious accident occurred, using all possible means at our disposal to cooperate and work together with other networks of concerned individuals and anti-nuclear groups.

We strongly request a conversion to an energy policy that does not depend on nuclear power generation.

We cannot help getting very angry and mortified about the reports of the severe damage at the Fukushima Nuclear Plant No. 1.

Currently, our misgivings are deepening regarding the exposure to the workers who are doing their utmost to prevent the worst case scenario from happening.

We strongly request that every measure is taken to ensure that the workers are not exposed to radioactivity.

In addition, we are concerned about the influence on the citizens living in the surrounding environment, in particular pregnant women and children. The effect on the embryo and on infants due to doses of radioactivity has been found to be about 10 times stronger than on children, and about 100 times stronger than on adults (National Academy of Sciences. NAS, 1972).

Hour by hour, the situation appears to be changing to a more serious state, as the forecasts of damage due to radioactivity have become more and more prominent.

We strongly propose the following while at the same time we sincerely request that thorough measures be taken so that the worst possible situation is not allowed to happen:

1. Immediately expand the evacuation zone to prepare for every contingency, and make every effort to help pregnant women and children in particular to take shelter at a further distance away from the damaged reactors at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant No. 1.

2. Ensure that every effort is made to provide the people in the evacuation zone with food and water that have not been exposed to or polluted by radioactivity.