So, how d'you want your chicken? Chlorinated or irradiated?

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While all eyes are firmly focussed on a possible NHS stripping, chlorine chicken eating post Brexit future deal with Donald Trump's USA, this little gem might have escaped your attention.

According to a Telegraph report:

"Radioactive food grown near the wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan will be sold to British shoppers next month under controversial EU plans."

This is the area that was devastated by radiation after the disaster in the No1 nuclear power plant in Fukushima, Japan in 2011.

And the article goes on to explain that EU rules on radiation levels will be lifted for produce from Japan now that scientists had declared it safe and it will cover all manner of foodstuffs "…including baby food, breakfast cereals, fish, crustaceans, meat and green tea".

And this is important, despite Brexit, because we will be potentially tied into this deal until the 31st of December 2020.

The Telegraph quotes the chair of the environment, food and rural affairs committee in the last parliament, Neil Parish, as saying that the UK doesn't need this deal and that "If the Japanese won't eat this stuff, why should we?"

He also said that the experts might think it's OK to eat it, but that any food from that region should be labelled, so that consumers can make their own informed decision on whether to buy it or not.

We will of course be able to re-investigate this matter after Brexit, but we won't be able to actively change anything until after the transition phase has run its course at the end of next year.

And one French MEP, Michèle Rivasi, is also planning to raise objections to this plan within the EU.

Now, what this means is that radiation inspection certificates will no longer be required for this produce, except for some fish types, mushrooms and wild vegetables.

And the reason for this might be that the Japan Times reports that:

"According to officials, from April 2018 to March 2019, 9.21 million bags of rice were examined with not a single one exceeding the Japanese limit.

"The same for 2,455 samples of fruit and vegetables, 4,336 pieces of meat and 6,187 ocean fish."

But Kenji Kusano, the director of the government's main screening site, the Fukushima Agricultural Technology Center in Koriyama, said:

"Only river fish and wild mushrooms have on just six occasions been found to exceed the limits."

So that might explain the EU decision to relax the rules and the stated exceptions.

But the question being raised right now, is will food from the Fukushima prefecture be served at the Tokyo Olympics next year?

The government says that Fukushima is keen to see its produce used, but South Korea has suggested that it might bring its own food and kitchen along to feed its athletes.

With the South Korean Sports and Olympic Committee having already issued a statement saying:

"We have requested the Olympic organizers to provide objective data verified by an independent third body.

"Since Japan repeatedly said its food from Fukushima is safe, we have demanded they provide statistics and data to back up their claims."

And it also seems that both China and the US are not keen to import food from the area.

So let's have a look at the levels that are deemed acceptable by Japan and how they compare with the those of the EU.

According to the Japan Times, their government allows a maximum of 100 becquerels of caesium radioactivity per kilogram of produce.

But it says that the US maximum level is set 12 times higher than that at 1,200 becquerels per kilogram and the EU has an even higher acceptable limit of 1,250 becquerels per kilogram.

Although, from my reading of EU rules, there is a lower level of 600 for things like baby foods.

And bear in mind that the EU has been importing rice from Fukushima for the last two years.

At the end of the day, it comes down to whether you trust the Japanese government figures or, like some who intend to attend the Olympics, if you want an independent third party to verify those safety claims.

And also bear in mind there is the political angles of international trade and negotiating deals at play here. Any leverage is good leverage.

And on the other front we have claims that, post Brexit, we'll all be suffering the nasties from eating chlorine washed chicken originating from the US.

So, the question is, if you visited either the EU or the US post Brexit – would you be happy to eat a chicken based dish there?

And if the answer to that is yes, then what's wrong with imported chicken from either the US or from Japan?

And I also wander that, if some people said yes to one and no to the other, if their decision was influenced by their stance on Brexit?

Or whether maybe you actually prefer a glow in the dark chicken or one that smells like a swimming pool?

And will all sides be shouting 'foul play' over this?!

But the US angle is of course throwing up another controversy, that of claims by the Labour Party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, that Boris Johnson is going to throw our National Health Service (NHS) under the big bad Trump bus.

At a rushed conference this morning, Jeremy Corbyn and his Labour trade spokesman Barry Gardiner claimed they had proof that the Tories had lied when they said that the NHS was not on the table in trade talks with the US.

And when I say NHS I do mean our National Health Service and not Jeremy's son, Tommy Corbyn's National Hemp Service that very recently failed £100,000 in the red.

Anyway, these claims by Corbyn and Gardiner began unravelling minutes after they made them.

Corbyn started by presenting journalists with a thick wad of 451 pages, which he said proved that talks to sell off the NHS were far advanced.

He made it sound as if the NHS was facing an imminent demise of sky high drug prices and a US takeover.

The documents he produced were an unredacted version of the blacked out pages he held up in his ITV head to head with Boris a few days ago.

But, despite all his assertions there appeared little more to them than hot air.

Corbyn claimed that:

"We have now got evidence that under Boris Johnson the NHS is on the table and will be up for sale. He tried to cover it up in a secret agenda and today it has been exposed."

And he said it held proof that drug prices for the NHS would increase due to longer patent timescales.

But many are saying it is just nothing more than a US wish list. And I can see no smoking gun in Corbyn's claims.

Boris Johnson hit straight back, saying:

"The NHS is not on the table in any way.

"I can give you an absolute cast-iron guarantee that this is a complete diversion. That the NHS under no circumstances would be on the table for negotiation, for sale. Look at what we're doing with it – we're funding it massively."

And the international trade secretary, Liz Truss, called Corbyn's claims "conspiracy theory fuelled nonsense".

For me, Corbyn's press conference, hurriedly announced at 8 am this morning, had been set up to try and draw attention away from his complete car crash of an interview with Andrew Neil last night.

But it doesn't seem to have fooled anyone and may in fact end up damaging his campaign further.

Sources:

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/11/26/radioactive-food-fukushima-will-heading-uk-eu-plans/

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2019/11/26/national/fukushima-food-olympics-tokyo-2020/#.Xd55Qi2cbUI

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