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Food, Health, and Eco-news
Radiation Tests: 6th Round Finds our Seafood Safe
For the sixth time, tests on our seafood have produced reassuring results 04/26/2016 By Craig Weatherby
We've received the results from our sixth round of radiation tests.
 
Echoing the earlier results, they confirm that our fish are completely safe to consume.
 
You’ll find the test results under "Latest test results leave no cause for concern”, below.
 
First let’s review the background to this story, and the general reasons for confidence in the safety of our Pacific seafood.
 
Background to the new test results
Five years ago, a nuclear reactor in Fukushima, Japan was damaged by a tsunami wave.
 
Radioactive water spilled into the sea, causing concern about accumulation of radionuclides (radioactive isotopes of elements) in fish and shellfish.
 
Within days, scientists at independent organizations such as Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute and Greenpeace predicted very little risk to US seafood consumers.
 
They cited prior research showing that radionuclides dilute to safe levels within a few miles of a spill.
 
Those predictions have proven accurate. Subsequent tests by universities and government agencies have not found unsafe – or even abnormally high – levels of radionuclides in seafood caught along the US Pacific Coast.
 
Radiation levels in ocean waters off of the Pacific coast are expected to peak this year at very low, clearly safe levels.
 
See "Radioactivity in Pacific Coast waters projected to peak at very safe levels by 2016” under "Updates to the Japan Situation” on our Japan Nuclear Accident: Overview and Updates page.
 
Latest test results reveal no cause for concern
Earlier this year, Eurofins Laboratories analyzed samples of our primary wild Pacific seafood products: sockeye salmon, king salmon, halibut, and albacore tuna.
 
Their technicians looked for traces of the three radionuclides released in significant amounts from the stricken nuclear plant: cesium-134, cesium-137, and iodine-131.
 
With one very slight exception – king salmon – the new tests found none of these Fukushima-related radionuclides:
  • Cesium-134 – None detected (<1.0 Bq/kg*)
  • Cesium-137: None detected (<1.0 Bq/kg).
  • Iodine-131 – None detected (<2.0 Bq/kg).
The sample of king salmon we submitted contained 1.4Bq/kg of Cesium-137 … a natural, safe, barely detectable level.
 
To learn more about the terms referenced here, and place the results in perspective, see Vital Choice Fish Pass the Test with Flying Colors.
 
Our testing criteria and rationale
Why did we test only our sockeye salmonking salmonhalibut, and albacore tuna?
 
These are the only species we sell that could pose a plausible – albeit remote – risk of accumulating significant amounts of radionuclides from Japan.
 
Some sockeye salmon migrate through the mid-Pacific Ocean, while some albacore tuna migrate to within a few hundred miles of Japan. 
 
(The only area of the Pacific Ocean where tests have detected elevated – albeit still quite low – levels of radionuclides from the plant is within about 10 miles of the plant.)
 
Halibut and king salmon stay much closer to the Pacific coast of North America, but live long enough to conceivably accumulate radiation from the smaller, short-lived creatures they eat … assuming that those creatures contain significant amounts, which is unlikely.
 
We did not retest our Pacific shellfish – prawns, scallops, shrimp, squid, crab, mussels, oysters, and clams – because they eat mostly plankton and plant matter in their immediate local, are short-lived, and therefore can’t accumulate significant amounts of radiation.
 
Our shellfish also live too briefly and too far from Japan to absorb significant amounts of radioisotopes from ocean water … a view widely held in the scientific community that is supported by the results of our first two test rounds.
 
Vital Choice pioneered radiation testing of seafood
We were the first U.S. retailer to reveal the results of radiation tests on Pacific seafood.
 
In 2012, we tested our seafood twice for radionuclides from Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant, and it was found totally safe.
 
We re-tested our seafood twice in 2013, once in 2014, and once in 2015 … and each round produced reassuring results.
 
You will find links to all of our prior test reports on our Japan Nuclear Accident: Overview and Updates page.
 
The risk of contaminated seafood was never high
Dilution and distance protect the purity of seafood caught more than a few miles east of Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant.
 
Those predictions even encompass species that may swim through eastbound Japan-to-U.S. currents.
 
And the consensus scientific view now enjoys support from six rounds of tests – including the latest round – conducted on Pacific seafood sold by Vital Choice. Only one other retailer of Pacific seafood has followed our lead and tested its products.
 
Like us, they found either none of the radionuclides from Japan, or only the extremely low, safe levels that occur naturally in Pacific seafood.
 
Enjoy Vital Choice seafood, worry-free
We think it makes good sense to continue enjoying the culinary and health benefits of our Pacific seafood.
 
Should credible evidence emerge that questions its safety – which appears very unlikely – we will act to alert our customers and protect them from harm by withdrawing any affected products.
 
You can read an overview of the safety issues on our Japan Nuclear Accident: Overview and Updates page, which also hosts links to outside sources and to all of our test results.
 
As we say there, "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.”
 
The Internet echo chamber
You can’t trust everything you see on the Internet.
 
For example, we've received emails from several people worried by seemingly scary Japan-related information seen on a website.
 
Almost invariably, these scary posts were written by someone lacking expertise in the relevant fields: radiation in human health, Pacific currents, dilution rates of radioisotopes, fish migration routes, and the accumulation and persistence of radioisotopes in fish.
 
Most recently, some bloggers have misrepresented the meaning of a graphic from the U.S. National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) ... a myth that’s gone viral. 
 
These bloggers claim that the NOAA graphic shows the flow of radiation from Japan.
 
However, that claim is easily debunked, as in a post titled "Fukushima Emergency” at the fact-check website Snopes.com.
 
In fact, the alleged "radiation flow” map is NOAA’s map of Pacific wave heights following the 2011 earthquake ... look for the height-spectrum scale at its right-hand side.
 
Yet the NOAA wave map continues to spread, mislabeled, scaring millions away from the healthiest protein on the planet.
 
 
Sources
  • Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Public Health Statement for Strontium. Section 1.3 How might I be exposed to strontium? Accessed at http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/phs/phs.asp?id=654&tid=120
  • Eurofins Analytical Laboratories, Inc. Reporting Date 1/22/2016. Report numbers AR-16-QA-003034-01, AR-16-QA-003035-01, AR-16-QA-003036-01, and AR-16-QA-003037-01
  • U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). FDA Derived Intervention Level (DIL) or Criterion for Each Radionuclide Group. Accessed at http://www.fda.gov/downloads/NewsEvents/PublicHealthFocus/UCM251056.pdf
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