Fukushima food products still shunned by 15 percent of consumers: survey

Over 15 percent of people still hesitate to buy food produced in Fukushima Prefecture out of concerns over radiation materials emanating from the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant disaster, a survey released by the Consumer Affairs Agency on March 10 has shown.

According to the survey conducted in February this year, 15.7 percent of consumers said they hesitate to purchase food items produced in Fukushima Prefecture for fear of radioactive substances, down 1.5 percentage points from a previous survey in August last year. While the figure was on a downward trend, the survey found more than 10 percent of consumers were still shying away from Fukushima-produced food items.

The Fukushima Prefectural Government conducted a total of 22,514 radiation monitoring tests on 490 items produced in the agricultural, forestry and fisheries sectors within the prefecture between April 2015 and February 2016. Of them, radiation doses were below the standard levels in 22,496 tests — or 99.9 percent of all screenings.

The Consumer Affairs Agency’s survey was conducted over the Internet covering residents in Tokyo and 10 other prefectures in and outside disaster-hit regions, including main consumers of items produced in the disaster-affected areas. Of them, 5,176 people responded to the survey.

According to past surveys, 19.4 percent of respondents hesitated to purchase food produced in Fukushima Prefecture in the first survey conducted in February 2013. While the figure had since been on the decline, it shot up to a record 19.6 percent in the August 2014 survey after controversy arose over a manga depicting the protagonist who had a bleeding nose after visiting the stricken nuclear plant. The figure had since decreased again.

„There are people who say they do not eat food (from Fukushima) without being aware of the situation well, but just because they feel uneasy. We have no choice but to continue dispatching information patiently,“ said a representative of the Consumer Affairs Agency.