Fukushima fallout: Japanese company recalls powdered baby milk after detecting high levels of radioactive cesium
by Jonathan Benson, staff writer
The disastrous effects of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear catastrophe are still emerging nearly a year after the fact, as a popular Japanese baby formula company has now announced a massive recall of baby food tainted with radiation. Meiji Holdings Co., maker of Meiji Step infant powder (Meiji Step is only sold in Japan) is recalling 400,000 cans of the product because of contamination with radioactive cesium.
The Times of India reports that the recalled product contains excessive levels of radioactive cesium measuring as high as 30.8 becquerels per kilogram (Bq/kg) of both cesium-134 and cesium-137. Though this amount is lower than the 200 Bq/kg maximum threshold set by the Japanese health ministry, it is still too high for comfort for both the company and the public, which is why Meiji has issued the voluntary recall.
The initial investigation into the product began as a result of a customer complaint, according to a recent report by Bloomberg. The affected batches include products packaged back in April, just one month after the mega-earthquake and tsunami ravaged Japan’s eastern coast, and distributed in May. The same batches have a printed expiration date of October 2012.
Japan’s National Institute of Radiological Science (NIRS) explains that, based on average consumption levels of the product among the age groups for which it was designed, nine-month-old children could be exposed to the roughly 0.07 microsieverts per hour of toxic cesium, while one-year-olds could be exposed to 0.03 microsieverts per hour.
“There is only one source of cesium in that milk: nuclear fission from a nuclear reactor or spent fuel,” said Stephen Lincoln, a professor of chemistry at the University of Adelaide in South Australia, concerning the culprit of contamination. The plant where the tainted product was produced is located just 124 miles (200 kilometers) southwest of the crippled Fukushima nuclear facility.
“There may be parts around Fukushima that will have to be evacuated for 100 years. There is no way you can make radioactive decay happen more swiftly,” added Lincoln. Cesium-134, after all, has a half life of about two years, while cesium-137 has a half life of about 30 years (http://www.naturalnews.com/031992_r…).
Sources for this article include:
- Cesium found in Meiji baby formula (japantimes.co.jp)