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Radioactivity in food

The purpose of measuring radioactivity in food samples is to gather information on the uptake of radionuclides through food. The measurements are also used for obtaining an estimate on the radiation exposure caused by daily consumption of food.

Artificial radioactivity in food is monitored by collecting daily portions of solid food from institutional kitchens in three different locations over a period of one week. Drinks are collected for one day only. This produces information on the radioactivity levels in institutional kitchen food as well as on the radiation dose received from institutional kitchen food. The annual radiation dose originating from food received by Finns is estimated on the basis of this radiation dose.

The radioactivity of cesium-137 (Cs-137) in food may be notably higher if the food is prepared from a large amount of natural produce, as wild berries, freshwater fish, mushrooms and game still have concentrations of radioactive cesium originating from the Chernobyl nuclear power plant accident. Radioactivity in natural produce is separately monitored by acquiring them from the stores and market places in Helsinki, Tampere and Rovaniemi annually.

The cesium-137 and strontium-90 concentrations in daily food are minor, as the farming products used in preparing food are virtually free of radioactive materials. The variation in measurement results depends largely on the diet for the specific day of sampling and geographic variation in the source of the ingredients.


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