On Vegetables

March 24, 2011 2:42 PM

Regarding vegetables.

Since the Food Sanitation Act had not specified a threshold limit value for radioactive material, the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare set an interim limit value on March 17th in response to the earthquake. The value was determined in accordance with the guidelines written by the Nuclear Safety Commission of Japan in 1980.

Following the establishment of this temporary guideline, each prefecture began examining its vegetable products in the form they are consumed.

Results are sent to the Ministry and then to the Nuclear Emergency Response Headquarters, where officials make decisions on shipping suspensions for each unit of shipment with advice from the Nuclear Safety Commission.

The Japan Agricultural Standard requires that the vegetables' places of origin be labled by prefecture. Therefore, if officials decide that products of the prefecture contain a high concentration of radioactive material, shipments from the entire prefecture are banned. Also, prefectures and Japan Agriculture may cancel shipments to protect the agricultural brand of the region.

On a side note, since spinach is biologically more vulnerable to radioactive material and is also consumed without much cooking, it is often used for sampling examinations.