Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Radiation in U.S. Dairy Products–Not a Public Health Concern

Some of our curious cows
Recently, I’ve seen news coverage regarding radiation in dairy products as a result of what’s happening in Japan. Last week, tiny amounts of radiation were detected in milk samples from California, Washington and Arizona. You might have seen the same reports and are questioning if our milk supply safe. The answer is YES!

In a joint statement issued by Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA), they reported the trace levels of radioactive Iodine-131 found in the samples are more than 5,000 times lower than the intervention thresholds set by the FDA. The radiation levels are far below public health concerns, including for infants and children. The EPA and FDA advise there is no risk to the U.S. food supply. According to the scientists, because iodine-131 has a short half-life (the time it takes a substance to decrease by half) of about eight days, the agencies expect the level detected in milk and milk products to drop relatively quickly.

Milk is a highly regulated and tested food product. In addition to regular strict quality standards, the EPA tests milk for radiation every three months at about 30 stations in the U.S. In response to the ongoing situation in Japan, EPA has taken steps to increase the level of nationwide monitoring of milk, precipitation, drinking water and other potential exposure routes.

Here’s what the experts are saying;
Dr. Penny Borenstein, San Luis Obispo County Public Health Officer, said, “I really want to assure the public, it is safe to drink milk. It is safe to consume our dairy products.”

It’s important to understand how minuscule the radiation levels actually are,” says Stephen Apatow, Pathobiologics International.

According to one radiological expert, the level of radiation is far less than the average person gets from natural radiation from the ground and sky.

Radiation is all around us in our daily lives, and these findings are a minuscule amount compared to what people experience every day. For example, a person would be exposed to low levels of radiation on a round trip cross country flight, watching television, and even from construction materials, “said Patricia Hansen, an FDA Senior Scientists.

Dairy farmers and the U.S. dairy industry have a great track record of providing safe and healthy products. As a mother, I understand you need to trust what you’re feeding your family is safe. As a dairy producer, I know the dairy industry, along with state and federal government agencies, have many tests and regulations in place to guarantee the milk you purchase is safe and wholesome. So go ahead and keep eating dairy!


  1. Great post. I did not like some of U.S. media spin on this topic. I am sure it may have scared people from drinking milk last week.

  2. Well, of course you're going to say that. But what parent would knowingly give their children even miniscule amts of radiation? Saying it's safe is not enough. Go to U.C. Berkeley's Nuclear Engineering Dept and see the results for yourself. They are testing for the public. It's in the milk. The EPA just doesn't want you to panic, because that... would hurt the economy.

  3. Forgive my criticism, but have you actually tested your dairy products, or might you just be saying this because of the sense you have? From what I've heard, the FDA actually *raised* safety levels on radiation following the disasters in Japan so that the farming industry would not be hurt. If there's even a slight increase in radiation, it makes a lot of things on the planet more unsafe, but especially dairy. I'd be happy to see you guys going the extra mile by testing some of your products and publishing that before making what appear to be unsubstantiated claims. Not all of us trust what the government is telling us, and we'd rather independent sources. That said, thank you for being a dairy farmer in these tough times because as of now I still feel safe consuming dairy products.

  4. I appreciate the comments. U.S. dairy producers must follow a variety of strict standards established by the state and federal government and are subject to unannounced inspections several times each year to ensure we are meeting those standards. Milk processing facilities must comply with stringent milk safety standards as well.

    Milk from our farm, or any farm, is not tested for radiation daily but random quarterly tests are conducted across the nation. At this time, radiation is not a concern in dairy products made with milk produced in the U.S. I base that on the results of tests conducted by the federal government and the statements of experts.

    I absolutely understand you want to feed your family safe food. I purchase dairy products, fruit/veggies, meat, etc. in the grocery store just everyone else in this country. I continue to feel confident in the U.S. milk supply. I feed my family milk, butter, yogurt, and cheese I purchase weekly. At the end of the day, it's a choice we all have to make.


Thank you for reading my blog and taking the time to comment! I’m opening the doors of our farm to share with you and enjoy engaging in discussion. Please be respectful in your comments. I reserve the right to remove posts that include name calling, slander, and vulgar language or contain links to websites that assault animal agriculture.

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