Food Law News - UK - 2002

FSA News Item, 9 December 2002

CONTAMINANTS - Low radioactivity levels in cranberry products

Levels of radioactive caesium in cranberry products sold in the UK are low and raise no food safety concerns, according to a Food Standards Agency survey.

The small survey was carried out after higher than expected levels of radioactivity were found in a consignment of concentrated cranberry juice exported from Germany in August 2002. This consignment was returned and did not enter the UK food chain.

All products analysed as part of the FSA survey contained low levels of radioactivity and only four were above the reporting level of 5 Becquerels/kilogram (Bq/kg). This level was chosen because it is well below the limit for food entering the EU and above the background level of radiation.

Scientists at the FSA have estimated that even consumers eating very large quantities of these products would receive only a small dose of radioactivity. This dose would be lower than the annual average dose from natural radiation in food.

Radioactive caesium can enter the food chain following authorised discharges from nuclear sites or during accidental releases. Levels in food imported from countries outside the EU affected by the accident at the nuclear plant at Chernobyl in 1986 are governed by EU regulations.

Specified foods entering the EU must have a level of radioactivity below 600 Bq/kg. All products analysed in the survey had levels well below 600Bq/kg.

The FSA survey included cranberry juices, sauces, jams and jellies as well as cranberry concentrate powder and tablets. They were bought from a wide range of retail outlets, including major supermarkets, independent retailers, and chemists.

There is no need for consumers to avoid any cranberry containing products.

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