In the months since the beginning of the Fukushima nuclear crisis, Japanese consumers have rightly been worried about the radiation levels of food they are buying and eating. Now, following months of discussion, Greenpeace seafood radiation monitoring and the growing public distress over food contamination, AEON Japan’s largest retailer, announced yesterday that it is moving to zero radiation contamination of its food products. This includes seafood - which is a central part of the Japanese diet - sold by AEON.
To achieve this, AEON is strengthening its radiation screening, releasing the results to the public, and stopping sales of products they find to contain any amount of radioactive contamination, not just those that are below official government safety levels.
Consumers in Japan have been extremely worried about internal radiation doses from the consumption of contaminated food, and so far there has been no way for them to know if the food they are consuming is contaminated or not. Both the Japanese Government and nuclear corporation TEPCO have instigated monitoring of some products, but is still no clear or consistent way for consumers to know that what they are buying is actually safe.
AEON’s decision is a huge step forward for Japanese consumers, especially for pregnant women and young children, who are the most vulnerable to radiation exposure.
Greenpeace has spent months communicating with AEON and the other four largest retailers in Japan about the risks to the population. In October, we began a programme of surprise investigations of seafood products to pressure them to improve protection measures. We have been asking the companies to:
- Conduct radiation screening on seafood products that they are selling, and clearly show the results to the public
- lTo not rely on the official safety levels, which have been set too high , and to instead establish their own distribution standards, and to inform the public.
Greenpeace welcomes AEON’s announcement, and hopes that other retailers will soon follow in its footsteps. In taking this stand AEON has gone against the government, and shown that the official 500 Bq/kg limit is just not right. This strong stance will not only help protect AEON’s customers, but it will help push the political discussion for the food safety regulations and seafood issues in the right direction.
Wakao Hanaoka is an oceans campaigner at Greenpeace Japan