21 Mar 2011

Food contamination detected near Japan nuclear plant

8:02 am on 21 March 2011

Abnormal levels of radioactivity have been detected in milk and spinach in areas near a stricken nuclear plant in Japan, but a government spokesperson says the foods pose no immediate threat to humans.

The earthquake and tsunami on 11 March that triggered the nuclear emergency has left more than 18,000 people dead or missing.

Contaminated milk was found in Fukushima prefecture, where the damaged power station is located, while the tainted spinach was discovered in neighbouring Ibaraki prefecture.

The milk was found more than 30 kilometres from the plant, beyond a government exclusion zone.

But government spokesman Yukio Edano urged consumers to remain calm, saying that even if a person were to drink the contaminated milk for a year, the radiation level would be the equivalent of one CT hospital scan.

The government says the radiation detected exceeded the limit under Japanese law.