Following the nuclear accident, the Fukushima Prefectural School Association has been using Aizu rice for Fukushima city school lunches since April 2011, aiming to provide safer lunch ingredients and avoiding the consumption of local products. Aizu area is located approximately 100km from Fukushima Nuclear Power Plants.
At a regular Fukushima City Council meeting in September 2012, a request was made for "local production and consumption of Fukushima rice". Even at Fukushima City Board of Education, there was talk of again promoting local food production and consumption. In response to this disturbing development, the Fukushima Network for Saving Children from Radiation requested the Board directly, to ensure that “school lunches be made from uncontaminated safe ingredients." This request was made last October. The Board replied that it "has been trying to provide safe food materials."
Although a rule had been put in place that each meal should not exceed a total of 50bq/kg, it was discovered by the Network in making their request that "there is no such thing as a 50Bq rule anymore." Instead, currently about three of the ingredients are tested for radiation levels. The limit for each suspect radioactive nuclide is set at 10bq/kg.
It was mentioned also, that there are plans to measure the radiation level of newly harvested rice at the milling stage, by means of equipment with a detection limit down to 5bq/kg for each nuclide. It is the Board’s assumption that the rice contains about a total of 25bq/kg when it is in the form of brown rice. Parents, however, are very much hoping that the city will be committed to selecting rice for use in children’s meals that is minimally contaminated.
We are currently in the process of preparing another request, and would like to keep working with the Board to find out a way to provide safer ingredients so as to relieve parents’ very real concern.
Extracted from "Tangara" issued in Dec 2012, the monthly magazine of Fukushima Network for Saving Children from Radiation
Kokoku Shinpo Newspaper: Reintroduced Fukushima Rice for School Lunches Today, Tested Five Times by Fukushima City to Ensure Safety
Masaharu Noji, the chief of the Fukushima City Board of Education, said that “we will provide school lunches that are the safest in Japan with far stricter standards and inspections than the national standards.”
Asahi Newspaper: Again Fukushima Rice for School Lunches
Regarding the use of local rice, there has been a concern among some parents and also in the Fukushima City Council that “highly irradiated rice might be introduced”. The Fukushima City Board of Education has explained that the city “will have a five-tier rice inspection, from the 30kg bag inspection by the Japan Agriculture (JA) to a random inspection at school cafeterias. “We will provide rice that does not exceed 20Bq/ kg,, and we firmly believe that this rice is the safest in the country”.