via ex-SKF / December 6, 2011 /
The Ministry of Health and Labor, one of whose mandates is to protect consumers, quoted from Asahi Shinbun (12/6/2011), in a typical bureaucratic convolution:
The person in charge [at the Ministry of Health and Labor] says about the safety of the powdered milk that has been found with 30 becquerels/kg [of radioactive cesium], “It will be further diluted when consumed. It can be said that there will be no effect on health.”
Oh is that so? Are you sure?
Here’s a log-scale chart of daily radioactive cesium intake from 1974 to 2002 per person in Japan. A slight spike after the Chernobyl accident, but it has been the steady trend downward from max 1 becquerel/person/day in 1974 to max 0.1 becquerel/person/day, with minimum close to 0.01 becquerel/person/day. (The chart is from @tomynyo.)
A 6-month old baby drinks 4 cans of powdered milk per month, I was told. The net weight of a can of Meiji Step milk is 850 grams, so the baby would consume 3.4 kilograms (850 grams x 4) of the powdered milk per month. 3.4 kilograms of the powdered milk would contain 102 becquerels of radioactive cesium (30 becquerels/kg x 3.4). The baby would be fed with 3.4 becquerels of radioactive cesium per day.
That would be 34 to 340 times more than the pre-Fukushima accident level of radioactive cesium intake per person per day.
But bureaucrats at the Ministry of Health are confident. No effect on health. One expert chimes in with his tweet, saying “We shouldn’t be hurting the feelings of mothers who have fed their babies with this formula by making a big deal out of it. We shouldn’t make them feel worried or regret”. He continues by implying the amount of radioactive cesium is too small to cause any effect.
(UPDATE: Infants at one nursery school in Utsunomiya City in Tochigi Prefecture have been fed with this contaminated milk, according to the city. If you read Japanese, here’s the link to Yomiuri Shinbun Tochigi local version.)