” The proportion of consumers saying they hesitate to buy food products from Fukushima prefecture because of radiation fears reached 20%, up from 15% in February, according to a twice-yearly survey by the Consumer Affairs Agency released this week.
The percentage was the highest since February 2013, when the agency began issuing reports on how misinformation and harmful rumors were affecting consumer views of food and radioactive contamination.
The latest study was conducted online in August, and surveyed 5,176 adults in 11 prefectures including Tokyo and Osaka as well as the Tohoku region where the 2011 earthquake and tsunami hit hardest.
Of those surveyed, 22.5% said the government should impose stricter regulations concerning radiation and food, and 47% said that they would like to avoid intake of food with radioactive substances even if the radiation level is below government-set safety limits.
The government has said it took comprehensive measures to monitor foods produced in Japan and restricted distribution of contaminated food following the March 2011 earthquake and accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear-power plant. Any exposure to radioactive cesium in food is tiny, according to the ministry of health.
The Consumer Affairs Agency said it couldn’t identify a single reason for the slight rise in concern about radiation from food. “The increasing number of media reports on radiation and health effects may have had an effect on consumers’ awareness,” the agency said.
Only 31% of respondents said that safety of food, including the level of additives and radioactive contamination, is a factor when they purchase food, compared to 71% who said they focus on price.
Approximately half of those surveyed said they understood the terms becquerel, which measures how much radioactive energy is released per second, and sievert, which measures the size of impact of the radiation when humans are exposed to it. Both words were widely used in the Japanese media after the Fukushima accident. Nearly 21% were aware that Japan imposes stricter radiation standards on food than the U.S. or Europe. ” [Radiation standards on U.S. food are 12 times higher than Japanese food, and those on Canadian food are 10 times higher.]