Food Standards Agency
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Radioactivity report published

The FSA has published the 11th annual Radioactivity in Food and the Environment (RIFE) report, which shows that the level of man-made radioactivity to which people in the UK are exposed remained below the European Union (EU) legal limit during 2012.

The report combines the FSA’s monitoring results with those of the Environment Agency, the Northern Ireland Environment Agency and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency. It also combines the FSA’s data on food with data on environmental sources of radioactivity to provide a comprehensive picture for people who live close to nuclear sites and eat locally produced food.

Key findings

Key findings in the report include:

  • The total radiation dose to members of the public in the UK is significantly below the EU annual dose limit of 1 millisievert for all exposures.
  • The exposure of consumers to radioactivity in 2012 was similar to or lower than in 2011 for the majority of nuclear sites.
  • Monitoring of the Dalgety Bay area (near the site of a former military airfield) revealed many radium contaminated particles and objects. The FSA carried out an assessment of the potential food chain dose and Dalgety Bay was placed under a FEPA (Food and Environment Protection Act) control order to prohibit the sale or movement of foods from the beach.
  • Following the Fukushima accident in 2011, food import controls from Japan were introduced and, further revised, during 2012. Monitoring at UK ports of entry showed little or no radioactivity in food.

The full report can be found on the Scottish Environment Protection Agency's website via the 'External sites' links on this page.

Science behind the story

Radioactivity has been around since the Earth began and it exists naturally in the atmosphere, soil, seas and rivers. It is also created by human activity during energy production and military operations, and very small amounts get into the food and drink we consume. However, the vast majority of radioactivity found in food results from natural rather than man-made sources.

The main purpose of the FSA’s monitoring programme is to make sure that levels of radionuclides in food and drink from discharges do not cause unacceptable exposure to radioactivity through our food.

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