Radioactive Bulgarian Mushroomes Seized, Containing More Than 6,000 Becquerels Per Kg Cesium-137

Radioactive mushrooms contaminated in Chernobyl disaster seized at British port (Daily Mail,  June 11 2011):

A ton of mushrooms containing ten times the safe level of a radioactive metal has been seized and destroyed by health chiefs.

The Bulgarian consignment of dried wild mushrooms is thought to have been irradiated by caesium 137 from the Chernobyl disaster in Ukraine 25 years ago.

It was found by a UK Border Agency team looking for illegal immigrants and impounded before it reached the shops.

Levels of radiation are measured in becquerels. The EU sets a maximum limit for caesium 137 in food of 600 becquerels per kilogram – double the level in Japan.

But the amount of radioactivity found in the mushrooms destined for British families was more than 6,000 becquerels.

Caesium 137 causes genetic mutations in humans and animals. Eating food contaminated with the radioactive metal can lead to cancer or cause deformities in developing babies.

The mushrooms were discovered on May 6 at Humber Sea Terminal, North Lincolnshire. Details emerged last night in a report by port health chiefs.

Investigators initially thought the radiation was linked to food affected by the meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan two months ago.

But they decided Chernobyl was the culprit after Food Standards Agency officers spoke to Bulgarian authorities. The FSA has issued an EU-wide food safety alert.

Last night, an agency spokesman said: ‘There is no evidence that any of the mushrooms have been eaten.’

Farmers around Europe are still suffering from the legacy of Chernobyl. Mushrooms are particularly susceptible to radioactive fallout because they do not have roots, instead using absorption to obtain nutrients from the atmosphere through surface cells.

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