I was surprised to see the June 4 editorial cartoon by Jack Ohman depicting sushi “fresh from Fukushima.” This is clearly an allusion to recent news reports of Pacific bluefin tuna with trace levels of radiation found in the Pacific Ocean. I would like to clear up any misconceptions and unfounded fears about Japanese seafood that this image in your paper may have created.
These reports came out of a recent article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. While the fish tested had trace levels of radioactive cesium, these levels were negligible. The article recognizes that the radiocesium concentrations of post-Fukushima Pacific bluefin tuna were far less than the recent stringently amended Japanese safety limit of 100 becquerels per kilogram wet weight (about 400 becquerels per kilogram dry weight). To put this into perspective, the current US safety limits are 1,200 becquerels per kilogram wet weight. The tuna in the study had readings of 4 and 6 becquerels per kilogram (dry weight) for cesium-134 and cesium-137, respectively — far below those safety limits.
Cartoons such as Ohman’s are likely to create a very negative and misguided image not only for the sushi industry, but for all Japanese food products. I encourage you not to let sensational headlines and editorial cartoons stop you and your readers from enjoying your next sushi dinner.