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Japanese standards on radioactive substances in food and overseas indexes

2016年3月7日更新 Update

Standard Limits of Radioactive Substances for Food in Japan

Under the Food Sanitation Act, the standard limits were established and enforced on April 1, 2012.

New Safety Standard for Radioactive Cesium Contained in Foods

(Quotation: Consumer Affairs Agency, Government of Japan)

Overseas indexes concerning radioactive substances in food(Bq/kg)

RadionuclidesJapanCodex Alimentarius CommissionEUUS
Radioactive cesiumDrinking water...10Drinking water...1,000All food...1,200
Milk...50Milk...1,000
Infant food...50Infant food...1,000Infant food...400
General food...100General food...1,000General food...1,250
Upper limit value of additional dose1mSv1mSv1mSv5mSv
Estimated values of the proportion of food containing radioactive substances50%10%10%30%

It is not possible to simply compare the numerical values because the reference values (standard limits) were established by taking into account the estimated impact of the amount of food ingested, the proportion of food containing radioactive substances, etc. The Codex Alimentarius Commission (EU and Japan), have designated the upper limit of additional doses as being 1 mSv/year.

Image: Food & Radiation Q&A

Source: "Food and Radiation Q&A," issued by the Consumer Affairs Agency (Japanese: March 15 2016) P.19

Reference1: "Food and Radiation Q&A," issued by the Consumer Affairs Agency (English: September 2013)

Image: Radioactive Materials in foods

Reference2: "Radioactive substances in food," issued by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (English)

Establishment of the limits for Radionuclide in Foods (MHLW)

1. Concept of Japanese limits

The limits are based on 1 mSv in a year as an intervention level for the following reasons;

  • The Guideline Levels of Codex Alimentarius (CODEX STAN 193-1995) adopted 1 mSv in a year as an intervention exemption level.
  • Monitoring surveys demonstrated that concentrations of radionuclide decreased in most foods as time goes by (ALARA principle, As Low As Reasonably Achievable).

2. Comparison between Japanese limits and the Codex guideline levels

Japanese limits for radioactive cesium

CategoryLimit(Unit:Bq/kg)
Drinking water10
Milk50
General Foods100
Infant Foods50

Codex guideline levels for radioactive cesium

CategoryLimit(Unit:Bq/kg)
Infant foods1000
Other foods1000
  1. The Codex guideline adopts 10% as the ratio of the amount of foodstuff imported from contaminated areas; on the other hand Japan established the limits on the assumption that 50% of the marketed foods are contaminated, based on Japan’s food self-sufficiency.
  2. Japanese limits for radioactive cesium take into account the contribution of radioactive strontium, plutonium etc.
  3. Japanese limits are calculated taking age-category into consideration.