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Cesium in school lunches

March 29, 2012

44 Japanese municipalities test school lunches for cesium




TOKYO (Kyodo) -- A recent Kyodo News survey has found that 44 of 74 major Japanese municipalities are testing school lunches or their contents for radioactive cesium amid fears of radioactive contamination following the March 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant accident.

In 17 eastern Japan prefectures, including Fukushima, where the central government requires food products to be tested before shipment, 34 of 42 municipalities covered by the survey are conducting such tests. In the other prefectures, similar tests are undertaken in 10 out of 32 cities.

The survey conducted between March 16 and 22 covered school boards of the 74 major municipalities including the country's prefectural capitals and Tokyo's 23 wards. Municipal governments are left free to decide whether to test school lunches.

Forty-four of the 74 survey targets test school lunches or their materials in various ways.

Of the remaining 30 survey targets, six including Morioka and Akita in northeastern Japan plan to start such tests in the future. Among the 24 that do not test school lunches, some cited confirmed safety of food products in the market through pre-shipment and other tests as a reason.

Of the 74 municipalities, seven have adopted stricter allowable cesium density levels for food products than the central government standard, taking effect Sunday, of 100 becquerels per kilogram.

The stricter levels include 4 becquerels per kg for Sapporo, 10 becquerels for Yamagata, 40 becquerels for Fukui and Tokyo's Adachi and Sumida wards, 50 becquerels for Kyoto and the absence of cesium detection for Tottori.

Fukushima, Matsuyama and Tokyo's Bunkyo Ward are considering setting stricter levels than the central government standard.

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