Should We Be Concerned About Radioactive Fish After the Fukushima Dai-ichi Meltdown?

Nuclear Regulatory Commission officals at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear complex.
Nuclear Regulatory Commission officals at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear complex.
Nuclear Regulatory Commission

In the aftermath of radiation spills from Japan's Fukushima nuclear reactor in the 2011 earthquake, one question remains regarding its effect on our seafood: Is it safe to eat?

In a recent article, the Los Angeles Times reports that, "according to the scientists who are studying the issue, the short answer is no."

What do Valley chefs and restaurateurs have to say? While some agree there is little cause for concern, others aren't so sure -- and a few say there are more pressing threats to the safety of our seafood than the spread of contamination from Fukushima into the Pacific Ocean. What do you think?

See also: 13 Halloween Treats That Valley Chefs Are Giving Out This Year

Chef James Ducas, LON's and Last Drop at the Hermosa

We source a lot of seafood from the coast of California: Santa Barbara spot prawns, local halibut, uni, abalone, black cod, and others. We are aware of the radiation factor. That's why we use a sustainable company like Kanaloa Seafood, which makes sure our product is safe and up to its standards before getting it to us. The fish is tested at the source and again at their facility to ensure that it's safe and no levels have been recorded higher than allowed by the U.S. government.

Adam Allison Chef and Owner, Frank. Food Truck

From what I've read and heard (my father works at the nuclear plant in Arizona), it's nothing to lose sleep over. There is radiation in everything. Though, like any food we consume, we need to keep a watchful eye on it.

Michael O'Dowd Chef and Partner, Renegade by MOD, Wicked Six Bar & Grill by MOD

As an avid fisherman, I know that around the plant in Japan, the fish are 2,000 to 3,000 more radioactive (they've seen this in the rockfish). Scientists have been testing species of fish within our waters and say they are fine to eat. I think with continued testing and scientists on board, we should be forewarned if something arises. 

Chef Massimo De Francesca, Taggia at FireSky Resort and Spa

Absolutely. Eric Ripert went as far as adding an apparatus that measures radiation in the fish he uses. Some studies suggest cancer will be more common on the West Coast. According to the Wall Street Journal, it's being projected that the cleanup of Fukushima could take up to 40 years to complete.

Chef Michael Stebner, True Food Kitchen

I would be more concerned about the pesticide, herbicide, and fungicide contamination on the genetically modified produce that is growing right here in our own country and that has been proven to exist. There is no evidence of radioactive fish off our coast.

Chef Gregory Wiener, Top of the Rock

The research I have done says the levels are so minute that, as of right now, there is no concern. However, continued testing should be done to make sure that the radiation levels remain at a safe level.

Chef Maurice Gordon, The Westin Phoenix Downtown

There is some cause for concern. No one anticipated there being any traces of radiation this early. If the results start to show the fish containing larger traces of radiation, then there will definitely be cause for us to be concerned and some type of action to be taken. 

Stephen Plunkett, General Manager and Wine Director for Sassi

I am much more concerned about whether the sushi chef washes his hands often enough and follows good sanitation and food safety practices than I am about radiation. I have not seen any thoughtful reporting on radioactive contamination and am quite skeptical that it's really a problem.

Aaron Eckburg Owner, Go Lb. Salt

At this point, the potential for concern exists but measured radiation levels from fish caught outside the immediate area are still registering radiation levels that are below acceptable limits. This coming year may see an increase in radiation found in fish caught off the California coast, but that remains to be seen and is being monitored. According to all reports, the two currents directly off the coast of Japan quickly diluted most of the immediate radiation. Predictions suggest that it will take three years for whatever radiation washed out to sea to reach the California coastline.

Chef Shoshana Frost, Fired Up Grill

We should not be as concerned with radioactive fish as we should be with farm-raised. There is no such thing as sustainable fishing. The only way to sustain a species is to stop over-fishing it. It certainly doesn't do us any good to have fish that was fed a diet of GMO corn. Between microwaves and mobile phones, I don't see why the concern about radiation.

Eddie Castillo, Chef and Owner, AZ Food Crafters

There is so much that is unknown, we should be concerned. Current testing assures us that fish caught off of the Pacific are safe to eat. But the continued leaks mean that radiation is still present in these waters and there are concerns about bone seeking radioactive "cells" living longer in fish. So much uncertainty makes me nervous. None of this exists in nature and we have no background on it at all. It is a scary and heartbreaking situation.

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