Sept. 2012: Radiation tests clear Vital Choice fish … again
In September of 2012, we re-tested four of the species we offer: North Pacific albacore tuna, Alaskan halibut, Alaskan sockeye salmon, and Alaskan cod.
Reassuringly, Eurofins found no detectable Cesium-134 or Iodine 131 in any of the samples, and they found only a barely detectable, clearly safe level of Cesium 137 in samples of our Alaskan cod.
March, 2012: Vital Choice seafood passed with flying colors
We believe we are the first fishmonger to release the results of radiation tests on
Pacific seafood products harvested after the accident in Japan. To read more about
Updates to the Japan Situation
Check here for the latest news
October 24, 2012
Scientists from Oregon State University and NOAA tested samples of albacore tuna caught off the West Coast of the U.S.
The fish show minute traces of radiation from the Fukushima reactor disaster, but at levels far below anything that would pose a risk to humans.
As they said, “To increase their normal annual dosage of radiation by just 1 percent, a person would have to eat more than 4,000 pounds of the highest (radiation) level albacore we've seen.”
June 21, 2012
U.S. FDA tests on 199 samples of seafood from Japan (including king, silver, pink, and sockeye salmon) found no detectable radionuclides.
The lastest test was on Japanese mackerel, reported on May 14, 2012.
This is the key excerpt:
“As of June 20th, FDA import investigators had performed 32,685 field examinations for radionuclide contamination [geiger counter, etc.]. FDA had tested 1313 samples, 199 which were seafood or seafood products. 1312 samples had no Iodine-131, Cesium-134, Cesium-137, or other gamma-ray emitting radionuclides of concern. One sample [ginger powder* from Japan] was found to contain detectable levels of Cesium, but was below the established Derived Intervention Level (DIL) and posed no public health concern.”
March 31, 2012
The tests looked for Cesium-134, Cesium-137, and Iodine-131, which are the only risky radionuclides released in significant amounts from the plant.
Of the tested products, 14 had no detectable traces of those three radionuclides, while two (halibut and albacore tuna) contained normal, very safe trace levels of Cesium-134. To learn more, click here.
February 4, 2012
Japanese tests find no
risks in migratory fish
A recent article in Japan Times summarized the encouraging findings of tests of fish caught off the eastern Japanese coast, both north and south of the Fukushima nuclear plant:
Testing of thousands of fish, including tuna, has turned up little or no contamination.
Regular nationwide tests have found no signs of unsafe radiation levels among ocean fish caught outside the coastal areas of Fukushima and Ibaraki prefectures.
According to 5,524 sampling tests, no ocean fish – except those caught close to the Fukushima and Ibaraki coastlines – contained radioactive cesium above 500 becquerels per kilogram, as of January 24, 2012.
Some migratory tuna have tested at around 10 to 20 becquerels per kilogram (Bq/kg) of radioactive cesium – five to 10 times lower than Japan’s legal limit of 500 Bq/kg. Those levels aren't likely to increase because ocean contamination levels are already barely detectable, and, barring further significant leaks, will continue to decline.
According to Satoshi Katayama, professor of fisheries biology and ecology at Tohoku University, “As for migratory fish far off the coast, I'm not too worried.” He noted that even if migratory fish fish swim through the waters off Fukushima, they “only stay there for a few weeks or about a month at the longest. So basically, contamination levels [in those fish] are more likely to decline than increase.”
The only species we sell that could conceivably (but very rarely do) migrate to within 100-200 miles of the affected coastal areas is albacore tuna. At that distance from the leak, ocean radiation levels would already be minuscule.
According to Takashi Ishimaru, professor of ocean science at Tokyo University, any low levels of radioactive cesium absorbed by fish that swam close to Fukushima would fall by half in about 50 days as they discharged it through their gills and excreta. Any albacore that came within 100 miles of the Fukushima plant would swim through clean ocean waters for at least 100 days (usually much longer) before being harvested, meaning that any absorbed cesium would have been cleared.
Source: Japan Times. Scientists say contamination of ocean fish minimal so far. Saturday, Feb. 4, 2012.
December 21, 2011
FDA finds virtually no
radiation in Japanese fish
As of December 21, FDA investigators had tested 1,208 food samples from Japan, 182 of which were seafood products. All but one samples had no Iodine-131, Cesium-134, Cesium-137, or other gamma-ray emitting radionuclides of concern. One sample contained detectable levels of Cesium, below the established Derived Intervention Level (DIL), which as the agency said "posed no public health concern".
Greenpeace finds only low radiation levels in ocean fish
Last month, Greenpeace Japan announced the results of independent radiation testing of Japanese seafood harvested in the area of the nuclear plants. Tests on 60 different fish found no detectable radiation in many of the tested fish, and the highest recorded amount was 88 becquerels per kilogram (in lake smelt) ... less than one-fifth of the 500 becquerels per kilogram (Bq/kg) upper safety limit set by the Japanese government, and less than the amount of natural radioactivity found in bananas (130 Bq/kg) or brazil nuts (444 Bq/kg). The limit set by the Ukraine government after the 1986 Chernobyl disaster was 150 Bq/kg.
Low levels of radioactive cesium-134 or -137 were detected in 34 fish.
Canada tested wild Pacific salmon and albacore tuna
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) announced the results of radiation testing of wild Pacific salmon (sockeye, chum, coho, pink) and albacore tuna caught off the coast of British Columbia (BC).
The results from 12 samples showed “minimal detectable” levels of the long-lived radioactive particles Cesium -134 and Cesium -137, at levels below Health Canada’s “actionable levels”. (Other radioactive isotopes, such as Iodine-131, decay and become harmless within several days.)
The CFIA says it will continue to monitor the situation but no additional testing is planned.
Some of our canned sockeye salmon comes from BC, and wild Alaskan salmon migrate into the same mid-Pacific areas as BC salmon, so results from Canada's tests will generally apply to our Alaskan salmon as well.
No matter how the situation in Japan evolves over time, we will ensure that all products we sell meet high standards of purity and safety.
After all, Vital Choice families are among the largest consumers of our own fish.
There is still no indication that the wild Pacific seafood we offer will ever accumulate unsafe levels of radiation ... you will find relevant information below, and we post the latest news in the Updates column at right.
Why the risk of future contamination is near zero
Radiation released from Japan’s nuclear plants is very unlikely to
contaminate seafood harvested from Alaskan or North Pacific waters.
No Vital Choice seafood is caught, spawns, or swims and stays near the stricken nuclear plant on the northeastern coast of Japan. See the information on this page to learn why none of our fish could present a credible health risk
North Pacific albacore tuna is the only species we sell that could migrate to within 100 miles of the affected area. Sockeye is the only salmon species we sell that migrates though the mid-Pacific ocean.
Vital Choice seafood harvest areas
- All of our Pacific seafood – salmon, sablefish, halibut, cod, prawns, shrimp, Dungeness crab, mussels, and clams – is caught or harvested off Alaska, Washington State, Oregon, and British Columbia (BC), between 4,000 and 5,000 miles east of the nuclear plant.
The sole exceptions are albacore tuna and king crab. Our albacore is caught off Midway Island, and our king crab is caught in the Bering Sea. Both areas are located about 2,500 miles east of the plant.
Our sardines and mackerel are caught off the Atlantic coast of Portugal, about 7,000 miles from the Japanese plant.
Sockeye migration routes: Blue (Alaskan) and Red (BC) lines
Neither route comes within 1,000 miles of Japan. Our sockeye salmon
are caught off Alaska and British Columbia, about 5,000 miles east of Japan
The following explanation of the safety of North Pacific albacore tuna and Alaskan salmon comes from the May 3rd, 2011 joint statement
by the U.S. EPA, FDA and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the the FDA's December 7 update
“Juvenile North Pacific albacore tuna (2‐5 years old) typically begin an annual transoceanic migration in the spring and early summer in waters off Japan, continue migrating throughout the late summer into inshore waters off the U.S. Pacific coast, and end their migration in the late fall and winter in the western Pacific ocean. Migratory patterns of North American Pacific salmon most commonly do not reach the coastal or offshore waters of Japan. The majority of Alaska salmon spend most of their ocean residence in the Gulf of Alaska.”
“The migration of tuna and other species of fish from the coast of Japan to U.S. waters would take days or months under the best of circumstances, and vessels fishing beyond U.S. waters must also travel several days to return to port. During that time needed for a fish contaminated by radiation in Japan to migrate, be caught and reach the market, the level of short‐lived radionuclides such as I‐131 would drop significantly through natural radioactive decay. To date, no significantly elevated radiation levels have been detected in migratory species, including North Pacific albacore.”
“It is unlikely that a fish exposed to significant levels of radionuclides near the reactor could travel to U.S. waters and be caught and harvested. If this improbable trip did occur, the level of short-lived radionuclides such as I-131 would drop significantly through natural radioactive decay during the time needed to make the journey. At this time, Japanese tests have detected longer-lived radionuclides such as Cs-137 in only a few samples and at levels below FDA DILs [Derived Intervention Levels]. FDA’s testing of fish imported from Japan has not detected the presence of Cs-137.”
“The great quantity of water in the Pacific Ocean rapidly and effectively dilutes radioactive material ... radiation levels have dissipated rapidly, reaching drinking water standards by the 30 km [from the plant] test location. This means that seafood harvested in areas distant from the damaged reactor are unlikely to be affected.”
Radiation experts see no cause for concern
As Kusakabe noted, “the ocean is so vast that radioactive materials are heavily diluted by the time they travel even a few miles”.
Here are some relevant comments from Greenpeace, the Union of Concerned Scientists, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and the State of Alaska.
- The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission says that it expects that no harmful levels of radioactivity would travel from Japan to the United States “given the thousands of miles between the two countries.” (NYT 3/16/2011)
- Union of Concerned Scientists physicist Ed Lyman, Ph.D., told The Anchorage Daily News, “it's unlikely, even worst case, that there would be significant health effects for [North American] people.” (ADN 2011)
- John Hocevar of the Greenpeace Oceans Campaign wrote in a letter to SeafoodNews.com, “… we have no reason to believe that radioactive contamination currently provides any health concern for seafood from the North Pacific.” (SNC 3/16/2011)
State of Alaska pledges close scrutiny
The state of Alaska issued two statements in mid-March of 2011:
Radiation from nuclear event in Japan
We don’t expect significant levels of radioactivity in our state, and there’s no health risk at this time. Japan is thousands of miles from our state, and if radioactivity from the reactors is released it would be expected to be thinned-out by the winds before it could reach us.
We could see a very small increase in radiation levels — well below levels that would be a health concern. We’re working with federal, state, and local agencies in a coordinated effort to monitor radiation levels in Alaska.
State continues monitoring damaged Japanese reactor situation: Still no immediate or anticipated threat in Alaska
The state of Alaska, along with our federal counterparts, is continuing to monitor the situation in Japan regarding their nuclear reactors.
Although the situation surrounding the nuclear reactors in Fukushima Dai-ichi remains grave, radioactive material is still not expected to reach Alaska in any quantity sufficient to produce health concerns, according to scientists with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
The only way the atmospheric radiation can reach the U.S. is through the high level jet stream. The jet streams over the Pacific are far south of Alaska for the next three days. There is no immediate or anticipated threat of harmful radiation reaching Alaska or its waters, therefore all seafood and other food items produced in Alaska are safe to consume. State officials will notify the public through regular media channels and department websites should the situation change.