According to CFIA and Health Canada, all Japanese
intended for export are strictly controlled before their shipment to Canada and other countries.
In an attempt to eliminate any doubt about the quality of Japanese imports, a BCIT* student, Kazuhiro Takeuchi, under the technical supervision of BCCDC**, conducted in January-May 2015 a series of radiation tests on 30 Japanese food products commonly consumed in BC using a portable Gamma spectrometer, which is a very sensitive instrument capable of detecting the presence of very low radioactivity levels down to 1 to 2 Becquerels*** (Bq). All measurements performed by Kazuhiro showed no presence of any radioactivity in the tested foods. A detailed report of this work is
* BCIT: British Columbia Institute of Technology
** BCCDC: British Columbia Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC)
*** A Becquerel is the unit of radioactivity, equivalent to one disintegration per second (d/s) of a radioactive element. One Becquerel is an infinitesimal (tiny) quantity that is hard to be detected by conventional Gamma detectors such as a Geiger counter. To put one Becquerel in context, it is known that bananas contain approximately 130 Becquerels per Kilo of the radioactive element Potassium-40 (K-40). One banana would contain anywhere from 15 to 20 Becquerels of K-40.
In April 2014, a series of radioactivity tests were performed by Amy Luan, a BCIT student on a selection of fish and shellfish harvested in British Columbia. Her measurements did not show any presence of radioactivity from Fukushima in the tested seafood samples. Amy’s report is available for download from the BCIT website. Amy’s work, for which she received praise, will be followed in 2015 by more radiation testing on selected local and imported foods (particularly from Japan) to ensure the safety of foods consumed in BC.
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) – Regular updates on the status of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power
plant: Fukushima Daiichi Status Updates - IAEA
The Canadian Albacore Tuna Association has monitored levels of radioactivity in their products from 2010, the year before the Fukushima (Japan) reactor incident and up to the present. Both stored product from 2010, and fresh product since the 2011 episode were tested for Iodine-131, Cesium-134 and Cesium-137, three of the main radioactive isotopes released during the reactor incident. No samples had detectable levels of the radioactive Iodine or Cesium isotopes.
Canadian action levels for radioactivity in foods in situations of nuclear emergency (such as Fukushima) have been defined in Health Canada’s Guidelines for 3 food groups: fresh liquid milk, public drinking water, other commercial foods and beverages. The action levels are based on a dose of 1 milliSievert (mSv) accumulated during a nuclear emergency. To put this into perspective, 1 mSv is equivalent to one third (⅓) of the dose each individual receives annually from natural radiation. It is also about 2 to 5% of a dose due to an abdominal CT examination in radiology. Radioactivity in milk, water and food samples is measured in units of Becquerels (Bq); depending on a person’s age and the type of radionuclide they may be exposed to, ingesting 1 Bq of radioactive material is equivalent to an internal radiation dose to the body between 1/100,000 and 2/100,000 (0.00001 to 0.00002) of a mSv.
The laboratory limit of detection for the fish samples tested was 0.002 Bq/g. All samples tested had less than 0.002 Bq/g of Iodine 131, Cesium 134 and Cesium 137. One kg (2.12 lbs.) of fish at the laboratory limit of detection would be equivalent to less than 2 Becquerels, or to a dose between 0.00002 and 0.00004 mSv. View the Canadian Albacore Tuna Association Report 2013 here or check them out on their Facebook page.
- The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) implemented enhanced import controls, which did/does not allow food and animal feed products from affected areas in Japan to enter Canada without acceptable documentation or test results verifying their safety. The results of all the testing, with the exception of the fish testing in February 2012, can be found here.
- The Consumer and Clinical Radiation Protection Bureau of Health Canada uses a series of sensitive detectors to maintain permanent surveillance of radiation dose levels on Canada’s west coast and across Canada. Health Canada is adding to its existing monitors in BC to gather more detailed information on radiation levels in the province. BCCDC will be working with Health Canada to interpret the monitor readings. We do not expect that the monitors will show increases in radioactivity at levels of concern to health.