Buy your Canned Tuna, Now?

Radioactive Tuna recently caught off the California coast has been absolutely determined to be contaminated as a result of the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster. The results “are unequivocal. Fukushima was the source,” said Ken Buesseler of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. “We were frankly kind of startled,” said Nicholas Fisher, one of the researchers reporting the findings online Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The levels of radioactive cesium were 10 times higher than the amount measured in tuna off the California coast in previous years.

Reported from Los Angeles by Associated Press in an article, Radioactive bluefin tuna crossed the Pacific to US, they said “…scientists did not expect the nuclear fallout to linger in huge fish;” “Bluefin tuna absorbed radioactive cesium from swimming in contaminated waters and feeding on contaminated prey such as krill and squid,” the scientists said. “Now that scientists know that bluefin tuna can transport radiation, they also want to track the movements of other migratory species including sea turtles, sharks and seabirds.”

What’s next in our food chain??

I had written about this potential threat back in April, 2011, about a month after the disaster. The original article continues below…


April 13, 2011

Long term radiation effects, in Tuna?

With many of the long term effects from the Japanese Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster still ahead of us, a serious consideration should be made regarding the food chain and the possible radioactive contamination thereof. In this example, let’s look at Tuna fish. Is it safer to buy canned tuna now, before possible contamination into its food chain? Or, won’t it really matter.

People in Japan consume a tremendous amount of seafood. Japan is the worlds largest consumer and importer of fish. Tuna not only is fished and consumed by the Japanese, but tuna is widely consumed around the globe.

Many of us are most familiar with tuna in its canned form. Apart from those that enjoy their tuna sashimi style (raw fresh fish served in thin slices), most people will get their tuna pre-cooked and packaged in a small can.

The question is, will tuna that has swum off the coast of Japan, become contaminated with enough radioactive contamination such that we as humans will be affected negatively?

Lets look at a few facts first, like, which types of tuna will swim off the coast of Japan, and what is it that these tuna fish eat themselves?


Tuna that is caught near Japan

Pacific Bluefin tuna are caught in the seas off Kochi (Shikoku Island), Miyagi, and Hokkaido Prefectures in Japan.

They spawn in the Western Pacific between Okinawa and the Philippines and the Sea of Japan and they migrate over 6,000 nautical miles to the Eastern Pacific, eventually returning back to their birth waters to spawn again.

Southern Bluefin tuna can be caught off the coasts of Shizuoka, Kochi, Kagoshima, and Miyagi Prefectures in Japan.

Albacore tuna is caught off the coasts of Miyagi, Kochi, Mie, and Miyazaki Prefectures in Japan.

Yellowfin tuna is caught off the coasts of Shizuoka, Miyagi, and Kochi Prefectures in Japan.

Big-eyed tuna is caught off the shores of Miyagi, Kagoshima, Kochi, Shizuoka, Kanagawa, and Hokkaido Prefectures in Japan.


What do Tuna eat?
Tuna mostly eat small fish ranging from 1.5 inches up to 6 inches. Tuna will also eat squid, and very occasionally will consume crustaceans.

The small fish that tuna will eat include skipjack herring, flying fish, lancetfish, puffer fish, triggerfish and rabbitfish.

60% fish
20% squid
15% crustaceans

If tuna eat smaller fish like Herring, then what do the Herring eat?
Herring (a.k.a. trash fish) eat mostly plankton, as well as algae and some kelp.

If tuna eat squid, then what do squid eat?
Squids are carnivorous. The smaller species of squid mostly eat shrimp, and other small fish.


How could radiation enter the fish food-chain?

So now that we have an idea of what type of tuna is caught off Japan, and what it is that the tuna eat, lets hypothesize how radioactive particles could be ingested into this food chain.

We know that they have been dumping tremendous amounts of radioactive water into the Pacific ocean. This is the water that they have been spraying onto the reactors, fuel rods, and fuel pools while trying to keep them from entirely melting down. The problem is, there has been partial meltdown and the radiation is traveling with the water runoff, which is currently being dumped into the ocean (some water is being diverted into storage tanks).

Of the types of radiation involved, Iodine-131 is of least concern (in the context of this post subject) because it’s half-life is only 8 days. After 80 days, its affect is considered entirely gone.

Of much higher concern is Cesium-137, which has a half-life of 30 years (considered gone after 300 years). Of even higher concern is Plutonium-239 which has an unimaginable half-life of 24,000 years (considered gone after 240,000 years).

We know that both of these radioactive substances are present at the Fukushima plant, and have been found in the soil all over the region around Fukushima – in high quantities. We don’t know how much has been flowing into the Pacific ocean – we’ve heard a lot of numbers regarding Iodine-131, but scarcely a mention of Cesium or Plutonium. Perhaps this is because in the same sentence the reports can say, “but Iodine-131 only has a half-life of 8 days”. Most of the Sheeple may forget about the words, Cesium and Plutonium, since the main-stream-media rarely mentions them.

The radiation in the seawater is surely getting diluted, however fish are swimming in the water, and the diluted particles of Cesium and Plutonium will remain somewhere in the oceans for 300 to 240,000 years. Do you know how fish stay alive? They constantly are passing water through their mouths into their gills – never ending. Some of the radiation will ‘stick’ and enter their little fish bodies.

Not only do little fish stay alive this way, but also big fish. So, not only will big fish get their own radiation through water injection through their gills, etc… but the big fish also eat the small fish. Effectively then, they are getting a double-whammy. More radiation.

The big fish are then caught for processing, distribution and consumption by humans. Logical thinking suggests that the closer these fish are caught to Japan, the more likely they will have some amount of contamination.

Where does the ‘canned’ tuna come from?
About 68 percent are caught from the Pacific Ocean, 22 percent from the Indian Ocean, and the remaining 10 percent from the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea.

Regarding the U.S. tuna market,
“Solid White Tuna” as stated on the can is ‘Albacore only’ and is regulated by the FDA.

“Chunk Light Tuna” is mostly from the species, Skipjack, but it can include others such as Bigeye and Yellowfin, in any combination.

When you open a can of tuna, you don’t know where the actual tuna was caught. The canned tuna supply chain surely varies depending on deals made, the companies involved, etc…

Odds are of course, that the tuna in that particular can may not have been caught off the shore of Japan – it could have been caught in any other number of places in the Pacific. Lots of these tuna migrate their way to the west coast U.S., but it takes awhile – years in some cases.

No doubt the food supply chain will be examined further as time goes on, particularly if the situation continues to worsen at the Fukushima nuclear plant (It’s already a level-7, the highest on the nuke disaster scale). True results may not be measured for many years to come while looking back at cancer rates.

No amount of radiation ingestion is ‘OK’ though. A single Cesium-137 particle stuck in your body could start the chain reaction that leads to cancer – it’s all about ‘odds’. Some people get it, and some people don’t.

After all, during the 1950’s they were blowing up atomic bombs in the ocean… We’re still here – except one wonders how many more would still be here…


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  1. Just a question, would it be crazy to have a kitchen geiger counter? I feel like we will need to monitor the rad levels of anything from milk to canned tuna from here on out….. I dont see any other practical way to know for sure what we put in ourselves and our children. Right?

    1. All geiger counters will measure gamma radiations. Some will also catch beta radiations and very few will catch alpha radiations.

      The problem with beta and especially alpha is that their radiations are easily stopped, so unless the particles are on the surface of the fish, you won’t be able to detect them.

      But all is not lost. Iodine-131 and Caesium-137 both provide gamma emissions. A geiger counter should at least provide a mean to know if a fish is radioactive.

      Plutonium-239 is really nasty as it only decays as alpha radiations so this is more difficult to detect. On the other hand it would be surprising to find a significant quantity of plutonium without caesium as well.

  2. Also what about the ZEOLITE therapy in case we find plutonium or cesium in our bodies. Its that honeycomb shaped thingy that is suppossed to aid in getting heavy metals to exit your body when you go to the restroom. i guess the metals bind to the zeolite, then you pee them out. I just dont know how safe it is. Has anyone here taken Zeolite before??

  3. Our food futures have been weighing heavily on my mind. great article and very timely. im concerned about the lack of attention to contaminants in the food supply. ewg and some of the usual watchdogs havent even touched on the topic. im especially worried about wild pacific salmon. were not big tuna eaters because of the high mercury levels anyways. ‘they’ say that theres no cause for concern with the salmon. but they also said that seaweed would take years to show radioactive particles. now i131 and cesium are showing up in unexpected levels in west coast seaweeds in magnitudes of 100x’s safe levels. im writing my mla to demand ongoing testing of our ocean foods, stocking up on what i can and planning to eat from other waters. :(

  4. J, you might find that Ken’s advice about the inverse square law was telling people there was nothing to worry about from the Japanese radiation which is fatally flawed. DO NOT take his advice unless he can produce a doctorate in physics or nuclear science as he knows not what he talks about.

    1. the radiation network gives a quick and dirty tute on using geiger counters to measure background x10 minutes and then comparing that measurement to food/drink x10 minutes. it looks pretty sketchy but some people may need to ‘do something’ even if its not totally accurate. i think its a good idea to use common sense, track radioactive contamination data where its available, demand testing and release of timely information and to do research to figure out where contamination is going to bioaccumulate. there is a lot of data available from chernobyl. we can make somewhat educated predictions of where contamination will rear its ugly head in the food supply.

    2. LoL, that’s all nice, but if I wave my old war meter at my kitchen cabinet and it suddenly says 100 Rads, ain’t no way I am eating that cabinet’s contents. :)

  5. I avoid tuna because of the risk of mercury. I have several dozen cases of salmon and mackerel, though. I realize a lot of people don’t like the stronger “fishy” taste with salmon or mackerel, but it’s amazing what you can “cover up” with spices.

  6. A lot of tuna for the Japanese markets comes from Ocean Fish farms based in the oceans south of Australia

  7. How long does the process take for the tuna to be caught and canned? Is there a way to know when the tuna on the store shelves now was caught? Do you think some of the canned fish in the store now was caught before the radiation started entering the ocean? If not, does anyone know how long it will be before potentially contaminated fish will could be on the shelves?

  8. I bought some frozen salmon last week and noticed that were caught in the North East pacific Ocean. It is now 6 weeks since the disaster in Tokyo. My gut feeling is to return these packages of salmon to the shop. I need to know roughly when they were caught. How can I get this info? Thanks.

  9. I have tuna from even before the Gulf incident…something had me buying all I could pack.
    Thank you Lord!!

  10. I stopped eating any kind of seafood when I was sixteen years old, I am now sixty four years old. I used to dig clams when I was a kid that was the turn off. The first moment I saw that explosion at Fukishima I knew then it was all over, and it appears it is.

  11. 1. What brands of fishes are from the Atlantic Ocean, the Mediterranean, the Middle East, or the Gulf of Mexico and are they safe to eat ?

    2. In using a Geiger Counter to find radiation, doesn’t one have to open the can and thus expose his body to the radiation ?

    3. What are some good brands of Geiger Counter that one can take to a grocery store ?

    1. @non-Pacific: From what I’ve read, Atlantic and Gulf fisheries are not necessarily safe at this point. While the Fukushima detritus is worse on the NW Pacific coast, it is essentially in all the oceans now, and the Gulf still has all that toxic chem residue from the spill “clean-up”.
      Geiger counters / Radiation Monitors are not really an exact science for the small amounts that may be present in processed food, but one source is United Nuclear. There is also a Yahoo Group on Geiger counters, you might want to check that out.
      How does fresh water fish sound?

  12. The true problem is tuna migrate. Mr. & Mrs. Tuna will not naturally spend their whole long lives circling Japan. At some point they swim to other waters. Exotic places like the Mediterranean, etc. So you can’t just worry about the Asian tuna supply. You need to monitor all of it, for decades. Yes, 30% or so of the human population is dependent on the sea for their food. Sorry. Japan may have killed you.

    1. Correct Ken_20… Right on. Although I wouldn’t go so far to say Japan is solely responsible for any health related problems. Nuclear power generation is a worldwide industry, not exclusive to Japan… and if I remember correctly, TEPCO is responsible for the safe operation of the Fukushima Nuke plant {and then Mother Nature gave them and act of God} and then the plant safety systems all quit working properly.

      AS others have also mentioned, I haven’t been a seafood fan in 25-30 years. If I do decide on some once or twice a year, I prefer freshwater seafood, and demand to know where the crablegs or shrimp are from.

      1. tuna, salmon, Pacific all living creatures are a specialized eco system, high in vitamin b’s, deadly now. also review subtonic plate as researched 2011 ha, heavier particles do sink however are not taken up by the chain. I was worried it would all condense and blow out through the ring of fire somehow. nope. greed just pulled a sunken WWII vessel to depths, un-fathomed (pun). Fukushima, word broken into Japanese and Native American converse into “fu kyou mother” not nice at all so disclaimer: no offense to anyone, anywhere.

  13. I have tried to search for other tuna caught in other waters and I came across tuna caught in the Indian ocean. Do you think this tuna would be safe. If so, I will definitely stock up on it. What about salmon? Is the salmon still safe to ingest since it is mostly from Alaska?

    1. Patti

      I am not “positive” about this, but pretty sure..

      if by Salmon caught in Alaska

      do you mean

      Wild Alaskan Red Salmon?

      see, me, I had always assumed that something called
      Alaskan Salmon,
      was Salmon CAUGHT in Alaska..

      watched a documentary a while back,

      Alaskan Salmon
      is just the actual name of that “fish”.

      it can be caught many many places in the world,
      and still be labelled/called

      Alaskan Salmon.

      1. the farmers deny immune disease testing to wild salmon. over ten million were expected to route. counts numbered in ten thousands with more than 50% infectious. see ted x talks

      2. as of today only the USA is not required to post labels on food stuffs. Asiide of your comment, GMO’s once pollinated, never ever ever go back to natural. done is done For instance, a label Made in USA. The inert ingredients may come from anywhere it is greedy cheap. Bhopal? (spell correct?) Do they have a cross to bear with USA? China, filtering sewer oil to reconstitute to cooking oil for primarily street vendors?

  14. me? old as the dirt contaminated by this greed yet perceived as probity hence why we drilled fetal positioning under our desks. what has mankind come to? we rode horseback, bareback, 05
    ;00 to hungry or don’t worry. We had some semblance of freedom. Dissect that king’s English word. Outcast grunge group song “keep em separated” brings some things into question. For a simple equation, 49 countries, 51% control of large corporations, is it we the people?

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