Posts Tagged ‘meiji’

Safe food is getting scarcer in Japan, even out of the no man’s land, in what I call the monitored land. Surviving in Japan supposes boycotting any food from areas northeastern of Nagoya included and of course any sea product from the North Pacific Ocean. This strict rule makes shopping complicated but nowhere as eating out. The end of the year brings a new threat in traditional food gifts that Japanese offer, i.e. “oseibo” (in Japanese 「お歳暮」. It is hard to be always on one’s guard and make rational choices as to what to eat and it is socially a burden when one constantly has to ask for the source of ingredients of any food in shops and restaurants. Furthermore, when the temptation is from one’s relatives and friends, it is almost impossible for anyone to resist and discard the gift, like Snow White could not decline the shiny red apple for the gentle old, poor woman who actually was intent on killing her.

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The Beer In Japan post on SurvivalJapan offered some advice on how to choose food products with minimal radiation exposure risk in an environment devoid of reliable information source, with beer as an example. Three months ago, my post titled Safer Food Quest warned about such Tokyo-headquartered dairy product companies as Meiji, which distributes milk of course, but also chocolate snacks, ice cream, etc. Warning eventually became a scandal – one in many to come in Japan criminal food industry – as reported by Bloomberg today (read the article below).

Bloomberg – Cesium in Meiji Milk Powder Spurs Recall Amid Radiation Threat

By Kanoko Matsuyama, Dec. 6

Radioactive cesium was found in milk powder made by a Meiji Holdings Co. unit, Kyodo News said, causing the shares to fall the most in eight months and raising concern that nuclear radiation is contaminating baby food.

Meiji, Japan’s largest supplier of infant formula, is voluntarily recalling 400,000 cans of its “Meiji Step” brand product, which may have been contaminated by radiation leaked from the Fukushima nuclear plant, Kyodo said today. Affected cans have 2012 expiration dates of Oct. 4, Oct. 21, Oct. 22. and Oct. 24, it said.

Levels of cesium found in the 850-gram cans of baby milk powder are within safe limits and pose no health risk, the Tokyo-based company said in a statement today. The product may have been contaminated by cesium in the air, it said. The product was made in Saitama prefecture, north of Tokyo , it said.

Prolonged exposure to radiation in the air, ground and food can cause leukemia and other cancers, according to the London- based World Nuclear Association. Japanese consumers have spurned certain food products, including beef, after evidence that fallout from Tokyo Electric Power Co. (9501)’s nuclear plant, crippled in the March 11 earthquake, entered the food chain.

Meiji fell as much as 13 percent in Tokyo trading, ending trading down 9.7 percent at a 30-month low of 3,020 yen. Rivals Morinaga Milk Industry Co. plunged 3.5 percent to a three-year low of 275 yen and Megmilk Snow Brand Co. declined 3.6 percent.

Cesium Traces

Traces of cesium-137 and cesium-134 were first detected in the Meiji milk product on Dec. 3 and were found again on Dec. 4, the company said today.

In a nuclear accident, radioactive isotopes including iodine-131 and cesium-137, which are normally contained inside the fuel rods, may be released into the atmosphere as gases or particulates if the rods are damaged. These can be inhaled or ingested through contaminated food or water. Children are especially susceptible to radiation poisoning from iodine, which can accumulate in the thyroid and cause cancer, according to the World Health Organization.

Cesium-137 that enters the body is distributed throughout the soft tissues, especially in muscle. Cesium-137 is eliminated faster from the body than other radionuclides, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

To contact the reporter on this story: Kanoko Matsuyama in Tokyo at kmatsuyama2@bloomberg.net .

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jason Gale at j.gale@bloomberg.net

Shoppers are becoming aware as the apparition of milk with certified unique origin from places out of the no man’s land suggest. For instance, milk ″from Hyogo prefecture only″ is now available in some supermarkets  (see picture below with red box added to mark this mention in Japanese). Previously, tainted Hokkaido milk was difficult to avoid – although the northern island east coast is regularly visited by plumes from Fukushima. Besides, milk origin is ambiguously labelled ″packaged in″ any given factories without any details about the actual origin of the milk itself, hence discreetly giving decision power over whether companies mixed healthy milk with radioactive waste. Of course, there isn’t any guarantee that milk marketed as originating from the monitored land does not come from cows just imported from the no man’s land. Premium Kobe beef, for instance, only needs to be raised one year in that crowded region to be legally labelled and sold and such – cows are generally raised in greener and cheaper places such as Miyazaki (Kyushu)or Ishigaki (Okinawa) and then sent to Kobe. Although moving is costly, the cost can be passed on more easily on Kobe beef eaters than on Hyogo milk drinkers, hence providing a relative security for the latter ones. However the price of safe milk will rise with along with its increasing scarcity and it may reach a level where moving “hot” cows for their milk make economic sense on the very short-term. Food industrials should take notice with the example of milk packers that it damages their image, equity and bottom line very rapidly though. (more…)

Now that it clear that eastern and northern Japan, including Hokkaido, should not be trusted for their food, water and any natural or manufactured goods actually, I will not publish any other “proof” on the topic of the national fraud and instead focus on accessing safer food.

If you’re reading SurvivalJapan on a phone, you may bookmark this post and use it to check labels for food origin. Note that it may still be a fraud and in case of processed food (sausage, sake, jam, etc.), it tells you nothing about their ingredients (i.e. pork, rice, water, strawberries, etc.).

First you can check for contaminated prefectures, by looking up the Japanese in the list below:

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The SafeFoodMarket website proposes some information about official radiation dose values. Key word here is obviously “official” as this not so trustworthy – but it’s a good place to start.

Here is their description, in their own words, and the optimistic and naive message makes it highly suspicious :

“SafeFoodMarket is an origins comparison site to support your safe and healthy food life in Japan. You can see the radiation dose values in each prefecture reported by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology in Japan, and the supply bans information. Enjoy fresh and tasty Japanese food free from care of radiation!! ”

There is a rumor that official testing of soil, for instance, consists of taking samples 15 cm (6 inches) underground where the radiation readings are the lowest and not representative of the actual environment. The sampling is also sparse as it is difficult to enforce it everywhere. It is also dubious that every person hence turned into a nuclear technician is sufficiently trained to get meaningful results. Besides a lot of the radio-nucleides cannot be detected outside expensive and advanced laboratories: just pointing a Geiger counter for a few seconds is useless.

It is crucial to read Japanese labels and to be conscious that a sausage supposedly from Osaka for instance tells you nothing about where the pork comes from. Even then, false labelling is rampant – but it’s the best with have. You can get shop staff to kindly read them for you. Some stores have already been caught selling contaminated food (Aeon), some reported in the news that they would increase the percentage of food coming from the no man’s land to support them (7 / 11 convenience stores). Any company headquartered in Tokyo or in the no man’s land is highly suspect (Meiji dairy and chocolate products…).  Buy imported food as much as you can. This is no joke, a little amount of radioactivity ingested is highly dangerous.