Food Safety

Published on August 6th, 2012 | by Heather Carr


Radioactive Oatmeal in Hong Kong

Japanese Oats

A package of oatmeal from Japan for sale in a grocery store in Hong Kong tested positive for radiation last week.

Since the tsunami and subsequent meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant March 11, 2011, China began two testing programs to look for radioactive material in foods from Japan. The Hong Kong testing program discovered the radioactive oatmeal. The other testing program is in Macau.

The oatmeal tested positive for Cesium-137, a radioactive isotope that does not occur naturally. Cesium-137 is created as a byproduct of nuclear fission. The Codex Alimentarius Commission set the international safety limit for Cesium-137 at 1000 Becquerels/kilogram (Bq/kg), but individual nations set their own safety limits. Japan’s safety limit at the time of the Fukushima disaster was 500 Bq/kg. The oatmeal tested at 7 Bq/kg.

Since the testing began the day after the Fukushima nuclear disaster, more than 90,000 Japanese food products have been tested. Only 171 of those products tested positive for radiation.  The U.S. has no similar testing program.

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About the Author

Heather Carr loves food, politics, and innovative ways to make the world a better place. She counts Jacques Pepin and Speed Racer among her inspirations. You can find her on Facebook or .

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