‘No concerns about California wines due to Fukushima’

By Rachel Arthur

- Last updated on GMT

California's world-renowned wine region. Pic:getty/htrnr
California's world-renowned wine region. Pic:getty/htrnr

Related tags Wine California

Wine Institute, the organization representing the California wine industry, has emphasized there are no health risks to consumers from California wines; following media attention on a University of Bordeaux study that looked at the footprint of the 2011 Fukushima disaster.

The study measured cesium-137 radioactivity in wines in the Napa Valley, California. As the study explains: ‘The Fukushima incident, which took place on March 11, 2011, resulted in a radioactive cloud that has crossed the Pacific Ocean to reach the west coast of the US. And in Northern California, there is the Napa Valley. The idea was then to see if, as is the case in Europe following the Chernobyl accident, we could detect a variation in the cesium-137 level in these wines.’

While the study did find an increase in some post-2011 wines compared to 2009, the amount of radiation is still very low and does not present any health or safety concerns, says Wine Institute.

A statement from the organization highlights the findings: “According to Michael Pravikoff, one of the study’s authors, the amount of radiation present in all the wines tested is far too miniscule to harm a person’s health. An individual would need to drink more than 40,000 bottles in a year or 110 bottles every day to have any effect, he said in a PBS news story​ (July 24, 2018).

“Based on the university’s published measurements, the California wines contain 100 times less than the World Health Organization guidance level for drinking water.

“The World Health Organization​ also reported that the levels do not present any health or safety concern.”

Wine Institute also points to a 2016 study from University of California, Berkeley; where professor of nuclear engineering Kai Vetter and his team measured radiation in California five years after Fukushima and found nothing of concern.

"Vetter said people may not realize that they are exposed to radiation constantly and that levels of leftover nuclear radiation, such as that which leaked from the Fukushima plant, may be lower than naturally occurring levels in everyday life," ​adds Wine Institute. 

Study: Dating of wines with cesium-137: Fukushima's imprint. Pravikoff, M; Hubert, P. arXiv:1807.04340​ 

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