Radiation from damaged nuclear plant found in baby formula

Traces of radiation from Japan’s damaged Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant have been detected in baby formula, in the latest contaminated food case.

Food maker Meiji said yesterday it was recalling canned powdered milk for infants, with expiry dates of October 2012, as a precaution.

The levels of radioactive caesium were well below government-set safety limits, and the firm said the amounts were low enough not to have any effect on babies’ health, even if they drank the formula every day.

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Experts say children are more at risk than adults of getting cancer and other illnesses from radiation exposure.

“There is no problem because the levels are within the government limit,” Kazuhiko Tsurumi, a health ministry official in charge of food safety, said of the radiation in Meiji milk.

The 11 March earthquake and tsunami in north-eastern Japan sent three reactors into meltdown at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant, and these have been spewing radiation into the air and ocean. Some of that radiation has crept into food, such as rice, fish and beef. But this is the first time radiation has been reported in baby formula.

Kyodo News said the milk had been contaminated by airborne radioactive caesium while it was being dried.

The levels of caesium-134 and caesium-137 in the milk were up to 31 becquerels per kilo, which is well below the government limit of 200 becquerels per kilo set for milk.