When we read the Economist's hypothetical piece on a radioactive prawn ending Kim Jong Un, and leading to changes in the geopolitical relations between the two Koreas, we didn't realize this situation was perhaps more likely than we had previously thought. Or dared to hope.
Adding to the list of food scandals in China for us to worry about, there are now warnings of potentially radioactive seafood brought over from China's most famous historical nemesis: Japan. This week, 14 people were detained in Shandong for smuggling frozen seafood into China, some of it hailing from waters near Fukushima prefecture, the Global Times reported.
Seafood imports from the prefecture have been banned by China following the Tōhoku earthquake and resulting nuclear disaster in 2011.
In total, the smugglers brought over 5,000 tons of frozen seafood worth approximately RMB 230 million over the course of two years. Some of this seafood was sold in Beijing after having been stored in Japan's Hokkaido and shipped through Vietnam and Guangxi, according to China Wire.
Thankfully, fish caught near Fukushima, although containing radioactive substances, does not present a significant health risk, according to an expert blog on the NRDC from 2013. This is "due to dilution of the radioactivity released from Fukushima in the vast waters of the Pacific Ocean," the piece says.
Melissa Rodriguez, a Naturopathic Doctor at Beijing United Family Hospital, concurs. She says that, to her knowledge, radiation levels in food coming from Japan are within safe limits, before citing this recent study and adding: "The Japanese government has strict standards and they have done very thorough testing of various food products coming out of Fukishima, including fish. Everything that is on the market is safe." However, she does have some concerns about black market alternatives, saying that she is "weary of the seafood smugglers, since they do not perform any testing."
Still, Dr. Rodriguez says there's no need for Beijingers to panic or go into meltdown (pardon the pun) over the notion of radioactive seafood. She adds: "In general I would say that the risks are very low, the levels of radiation are continually dropping, and according to studies, most foodstuffs are currently within the safe limit."
However, if you want to take extra care to make sure that your fish is alright the next time you're eating, get this Geiger counter for your iPhone on Taobao, for a mere RMB 388.
One final note: If you're going to type "radioactive seafood" into a search engine to do more research, we recommend you do not search for images. Your author is slightly traumatized.
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Photos: Taobao, quirch
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