Subscribe to our free daily newsletters
. Earth Science News .

Subscribe to our free daily newsletters

Seafood radiation strikes Japan's culinary heart

by Staff Writers
Tokyo (AFP) April 7, 2011
The discovery of radiation in seafood has hit Japan right in its culinary heart, as the nation that brought sushi to the world contemplates having to change thousand-year-old eating habits.

For an archipelago that has lived off the ocean since prehistoric times, radioactive fish is a worst-case scenario with possibly economy-wide implications.

"If the situation worsens we don't know what the outlook will be," a manager at a popular sushi chain told AFP, saying the number of customers was down by about a third compared with normal times. "It's very scary to think about."

The March 11 earthquake and tsunami knocked out cooling systems at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, and in the nearly four weeks that have passed since, workers have been struggling to prevent atomic disaster.

So far most Japanese have not been directly affected by the calamity, but the realisation that radioactive material has been found in seafood has made many of the nation's 126 million people nervous.

The alarm was sounded early this week when radioactive iodine was detected in a variety of small fish known as konago, or sand lance, caught off Ibaraki, south of the plant. Fishing of the species was stopped locally, reports said.

The radiation level dropped off Fukushima, but iodine-131 concentrations remained at 140,000 times the government-set limit, the plant's operator said Thursday, according to Jiji Press. Caesium levels are also a concern.

According to Japan's Fisheries Agency, unsafe fish will not be sold to consumers as local fisheries cooperatives have stopped shipping them.

Whether official reassurances will help is another matter, and as of Thursday business had slowed significantly in Toyko's enormous and sprawling Tsukiji fish market.

"I'm in a bad mood all day, every day," a wholesaler at the market told AFP on condition of anonymity, saying that more than anything else his revenue had been hurt by harmful rumours.

Those rumours are likely to proliferate because radioactive seafood is a nightmare come true for two uniquely Japanese reasons.

Japan is the only country that has experienced atomic war and the long-term effects of radiation, leaving the public fearful of nuclear technologies even today, more than 65 years after Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The nation was also the scene of one of the worst public health disasters of the post-war period, with thousands crippled by mercury poisoning of seafood caused when toxic chemicals were released into the sea in the 1950s and 1960s.

Naomi Haraguchi, an official at the Tokyo city government's bureau of welfare and public health, food safety division which oversees hygiene at Tsukiji said Tokyo was readying for a worsening of the situation.

"Currently we have no plans to inspect the fish at Tsukiji but we are nonetheless making preparations for such plans if the situation changes," she said.

As the scare develops, restaurants may have to take unprecedented steps to reassure an anxious public.

"We are currently not planning to use Geiger counters but if the situation gets worse, I guess we'll have to start thinking about that," the sushi bar manager told AFP.

Ultimately, he added, if the situation drags on for long, there could be permanent changes in what the Japanese eat.

Fishermen used to fishing in waters off Japan's east coast could switch to the western side of the country and their catch would not be the same.

"(The species you can catch) are totally different. If the situation continues, this could lead to a change in Japanese eating habits," the manager said.

Share This Article With Planet Earth DiggDigg RedditReddit
YahooMyWebYahooMyWeb GoogleGoogle FacebookFacebook

Related Links
Water News - Science, Technology and Politics

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

World's Reef Fishes Tussling With Human Overpopulation
Halifax, Canada (SPX) Apr 07, 2011
In an unprecedented collaborative analysis published in the journal PLoS Biology, scientists from 49 nations demonstrated that the ability of reef fish systems to produce goods and services to humanity increases rapidly with the number of species. However, growing human populations hamper the ability of reefs to function normally, and counterintuitively, the most diverse reef fish systems suffer ... read more

BoJ warns on quake impact, offers loans

State of Japan's stricken nuclear reactors

Radiation, legal fears slow Japan quake clean-up

New Zealand ready to bail out quake-hit insurer

Japan considers wider nuclear evacuation zone

Putting Germanium Under Pressure

Google to reorganize YouTube channels: report

Force Of Acoustical Waves Tapped For Metamaterials

Seafood radiation strikes Japan's culinary heart

Fish Farm Waste Can Drift To Distant Shores

World's Reef Fishes Tussling With Human Overpopulation

Egypt in talks with Uganda over new Nile treaty

Russia Plans To Spend 195 Million Dollars On Antarctic Research Up To 2013

Human Impacts On The Marine Ecosystems Of Antarctica

U.N.: Arctic sees record ozone loss

Fishermen, greens see red over Alaska navy exercises

Latin American Working To Rejuvenate Crop Collections

World food prices fall for first time in eight months

Cost Effective Manure Management

China milk activist 'force-fed on hunger strike'

Powerful quake hits Japan, local tsunami alert

Still no tsunami alert system in Med, experts deplore

Japan nuclear plant workers evacuated: company

US forecasters predict busy 2011 hurricane season

Both victims of Port Sudan raid Sudanese: Khartoum

167 foreigners leave Ivory Coast main city: French military

French, UN troops in action against Gbagbo camp: France

Ivory Coast opposition blockade lifted, police desert: UN

Elevated Levels Of Sodium Blunt Response To Stress

Hookah Use Widespread Among College Students

It's Not Over When It's Over: Storing Sounds In The Inner Ear

Archaeologists Explore Iraqi Marshes For Origins Of Urbanization

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2010 - SpaceDaily. AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by SpaceDaily on any Web page published or hosted by SpaceDaily. Privacy Statement