Over the weekend, multiple media outlets reported that trace levels of radioactive Cesium had been found in Blue Fin Tuna caught off the coast of California. The radioactive particles had been picked up from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant (click here for the report), according to a report from the National Academy of Sciences.
Before anyone thinks twice about eating tuna, there are a couple of facts that you should keep in mind:
- The report did not conclude that there was any food safety or public health concern related to radiation from tuna of any kind. The trace amount of radiation found in the tuna is less than radiation that is found naturally in the Pacific Ocean from Potassium 40.
- The species of tuna mentioned in the report, Blue Fin tuna, is not used in the canned tuna sold in your local supermarket. In fact, Blue Fin is only served as sushi, and most Americans don’t eat much of it at all. According to the National Fisheries Institute, per capita, Americans only eat a few paper clips worth of Blue Fin Tuna every year.
- According to Dr. Robert Emery of the University of Texas Health Science Center, a person would have to eat 2.5 to 4 tons of Blue Fin tuna in a year to ingest enough cesium to cause a health problem.
If anything, the report should be seen as reassuring. “The finding should be reassuring to the public. As anticipated, the tuna contained only trace levels of radioactivity that originated from Japan. These levels amounted to only a small fraction of the naturally occurring radioactivity in the tuna, and were much too small to have any impact on public health,” said Timothy J. Jorgensen, associate professor of radiation medicine at Georgetown University, told ABC News. “Thus, there is no human health threat posed by consuming migratory tuna caught off the west coast of the United States.”