Is milk in Japan safe to drink?

Drink 58,000 glasses of Japanese milk=increase your lifetime risk of cancer by 4%” (Japan Probe, Mar 23, 2011)

NPR has interviewed Peter Caracappa, a health physicist at Renssealaer Polytechnic Institute, about the dangers of the contaminated food found near Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. Despite the fact that milk and spinach from the are are not being sold because their radiation levels are above Japan’s legal limit, Caracappa believes that the health risk is tiny.

“To reach the radiation dose limit for a power plant worker, you’d need to drink 2,922 eight-ounce glasses of milk. To raise your lifetime cancer risk by 4 percent, you’d have to drain more than 58,000 glasses of milk. That would take you 160 years, if you drank one 8-ounce glass a day.”

Even if what he says is true, consumers in Japan will not have to worry about drinking that radioactive milk. The government is restricting the shipment and sale of milk and spinach from those areas, and is conducting tests on other food products as well.

Milk generally isn’t safe to drink anywhere in Japan” Elle Marie… 12 Jul 2011

How safe is Japan’s food and water? (New 21 Mar 2011)

…”officials have discovered iodine-131 in three milk samples from Kawamata, a town in Fukushima prefecture. Radioactive caesium-137 also appeared in one of the samples, but at levels below the legal limit. As a precaution, the government has asked farmers in the prefecture to stop selling raw milk.

So how dangerous were the levels found?
Not very – at least, so says Yukio Edano, the chief cabinet secretary. He isquoted in the Japan Times as saying that the contaminated milk from Kawamata contained up to 1500 becquerels of iodine-131 per kilogram, about five times the legal limit for milk. But to put this in perspective, he pointed out that if someone on a typical Japanese diet drank this milk for a whole year, the accumulated radiation would equal that from a single CT scan.”

Japanese and milk drinking: part 1 of 2  part 2 of 2 Younger people considered they drunk more than average more than older people. Just over 50% of men in their twenties and just under 50% of women of the same age rated themselves as heavy drinkers as children, whereas only 20% of men and 12% of women over 60 thought they drunk more than average.

By sex and age, there was little variation in the percentage who loved milk, although there were slightly more men who just liked milk compared to women.

Q2: About how often do you consume milk, including low-fat milk, products containing milk? (Sample size=7,517)

Almost daily (to SQ) 41.5%
Four or five times a week 10.6%
Two or three times a week 15.7%