Food Law News - UK - 1999

21 September 1999: CONTAMINANTS - Report Confirms That Radioactivity in Food Remains Well Below Recommended Limits

FSA News Release (20/99), 21 September 1999

Report Confirms That Radioactivity in Food Remains Well Below Recommended Limits

The exposure of consumers to radioactivity through British food remains well below UK and international recommended limits, says a report published today. The report, 'Radioactivity in Food and the Environment 1998' - published jointly by MAFF and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) - says that natural radionuclides are by far the most important source of exposure in the average diet of consumers.

Food Safety Minister Baroness Hayman, and Alisdair Paton, Chief Executive of the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, state in a foreword to the report that the safety of food and protection of the environment continue to be important issues on the Government's agenda. Both Baroness Hayman and Mr Paton remain committed to a rigorous surveillance programme, which may be used if necessary to enforce the recommended limits of radioactivity. The Minister said today: "Extensive monitoring and analysis of more than 5,000 samples of milk, fruit, vegetable, meat, fish, and shellfish shows that UK consumers are not at risk from harmful levels of radioactivity."

A survey of the eating habits of those living around Sellafield led to a reassessment of local seafood consumption. This, together with inclusion of direct exposure, has resulted in a higher estimated maximum potential exposure than that reported for 1997. But even so, the most recent exposure level is only around 20 per cent of the EU limit.

In addition to the data for 1998 published in the report, the MAFF Internet site contains quarterly updates of provisional data for 1999. MAFF is committed to informing the public of the results of routine monitoring - and the monitoring of specific incidents - at an early stage.

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