Chefs Say So Far So Good, But Will Remain Vigilant

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Could powerful radiation from those reactors in Japan be tainting the fish you’re eating here at home? While the government says no, some restaurant owners aren’t taking any chances.

At Le Bernardin in Manhattan fish is a way of life.

“Well our fish is the freshest, of course, and it comes from the best,” owner Eric Ripert told CBS 2’s Kristin Thorne.

But celebrity owner Ripert said he’s making sure of it. He’s testing every single piece of fish that comes through his door for radiation.

“Some of our clients started asking us some questions and they were concerned,” Ripert said.

The concern is over radiation in the Pacific Ocean. A leak in one of the nuclear reactors in tsunami-ravaged Japan has spewed tons of radioactive material into the ocean. The Food & Drug Administration is testing all fish that comes into the United States and so far they say they haven’t found any contamination.

Neither has Ripert.

“For a week now we are using it on all products that come to the restaurant and so far it’s absolutely zero radiation,” Ripert said.

So the radiation tester is really very easy to use. They take it and they run it along the surface of the fish.

There’s no radiation tester at the Lobster Place in Chelsea Market, but manager Davis Herron said he’s sure his fish is radiation-free.

“We deal will suppliers that we trust and we know,” Herron said.

David Wallis of the West Village said he isn’t worried. Thorne caught up with him just as he was about to dig into his Chesapeake soft shell crab roll.

“We’re good. I don’t think it’s gotten to the Chesapeake yet,” Wallis said.

Debbie Cersosimo of West Hartford, Conn., said she’s just going to avoid fish for a while.

“You get enough radiation in everything else. You go through exams and stuff like that. No thanks,” she said.

While there’s no immediate concern for our food supply, all eyes are on Japan as the situation continues to unfold.

Chefs Thorne spoke to said if you’re concerned about your fish, you should ask a restaurant or grocery store staff where the fish came from.

Are you concerned over possible radiation in the foods you eat? Please offer your thoughts in the comments section below.

Comments (32)
  1. jx says:

    don’t think for a long while. Think no more fish from the Pacific for the res of your life. Radioactivity would only halve after 40 years-it’s not going to disappear

  2. Thebes says:

    Its flawed logic to compare ingested radioactive isotopes with radiation exposure to external emitters.

    You can’t compare eating a fish with high iodine or cesium levels to receiving an xray or cat scan. Thats like comparing the danger of eating something rotten to the danger of smelling it!

    Furthermore each radioactive isotope acts differently in the body if consumed. A millionth of a gram of Plutonium will probably kill via cancer, its much nastier than Iodine 131, which concentrates into the thyroid and frequently causes thyroid cancer- even years later. Cesium 137, which will still be half as strong in 30 years, concentrates mostly in the muscles. Strontium 90 concentrates in the bones and contributes to leukemias and blood disorders. The potassium in bananas is excreted more quickly than these “dirty bomb” like isotopes.

  3. JK in Joizey says:

    Wonder if there’s going to be a discount for radioactive sushi?
    What’s a little radiation huh? It’s actually good for you. Hormesis.

    1. NickK says:

      Many Geiger counters also do not detect alpha radiation, which is highly toxic when ingested. I hope you enjoy your shortened life span. It will match the maturity of your brain.

  4. Susan B. Anthony says:

    Finally a journalist who is real….Kudos to THORNE, she will follow this story, the public has the right to know.

  5. audio says:

    Total Fake picture.

    That’s a seabass from the ATLANTIC OCEAN. More propaganda.

  6. Theresa says:

    I’m not going to be eating tuna or shrimp for a long while. Between the oil that somehow magically just disappeared in the gulf, and now the radioactive water leaking into the Pacific, I might swear off seafood forever. Plus, think about it. Storms that cross the Pacific and land on US soil are also picking up moisture from the Pacific…I know the Pacific is a large, deep ocean, but if the leak persists and is potentially more than what we’re being told, couldn’t rainwater from those storms carry radiation to land, and our crops?

  7. TheRealDeal says:

    Wondering if they’re testing every piece of shrimp too

  8. Fisherman says:

    That fish is a black sea bass found on the east coast of the the U.S.

  9. Machismo says:

    Good Job testing seafood as it comes in. I am sure there are many desprete fisherman that will let some hit the market.

  10. NadePaulKuciGravMcKi says:

    Will not detect Internal Emitters.

    i.e. Plutonium

  11. J Turner says:

    The picture looks like an SE International Monitor 4 which detects alpha and beta radiation; I expect significant contamination of the fish would show some reading. Trying to translate the readings of these simple G-M counters directly to human dose rates is not too reliable, especially with particle sources, and would need more sophisticated measurement if activity is found. These meters are good for looking for lost sources, checking for contamination, etc. Testing food sources is particularly difficult; the contamination is not on the surface, it is inside.

  12. Hank Warren says:

    Useless EPA, yet another violation of our rights. Add it to the list of gov’t violations of our right:
    They violate the 1st Amendment by placing protesters in cages, banning books like “America Deceived II” and censoring the internet.
    They violate the 2nd Amendment by confiscating guns.
    They violate the 4th and 5th Amendment by molesting airline passengers.
    They violate the entire Constitution by starting undeclared wars for foreign countries.
    Impeach Obama and sweep out the Congress.
    (Last link of Banned Book):

    1. Machismo says:

      They think this bone head is going to keep being our president? No Way!

      1. MelKel says:

        Right on. No way Obama’s winning in 2012. He’s been just as much of a disaster as the nuc regulators in Japan.

  13. Falesteeni says:

    They’re out to get us all KILLED!!!!

  14. Barry Soetoro Is A LIAR says:

    Just ordered a case of the fermented Jap Nama Shoyu soy sauce which is expensive, but should last a good long while. Also bought up 10 ‘bricks’ of the Costco canned tuna before the supply gets contaminated. I’ll take the mercury over plutonium any day.

    I’ve read these detectors do not detect the highly dangerous isotopes wafting from Japan – one needs uber expensive university or military grade equipment for that. False sense of security. The Southern Hemisphere is looking better all the time.

  15. tadchem says:

    FIshing was banned in the contaminated waters as soon as the leak was detected.
    This is simply a PR investment by the restaurants to try to appease the more paranoid clientele, while giving the restauranteur an excuse to pump up the prices a little more.

  16. Alamo says:

    Pacific radiation means the fish come out of the water ready-cooked and ready to eat..just think of the energy we’ll save by not having to cook them!!

    1. kingfish20815 says:

      That’s the way I look at shrimp from the gulf.Just heat them a little and they are deep fried – great saving.

  17. Jamie says:

    I am concerned about radiation levels in Kobe beef. They have mentioned in many reports that the milk has radioactive levels due to the grass that the cows are eating (radiation travels in dust particles supposedly). I know that Kobe beef cows drink milk as part of their regime. Has any work been done to look into this? Have any restaurants in NY stopped carrying it?

    1. Juan Velarde says:

      I would contact this restaurant and ask where they bought the geiger counter and take one to restaurants and test my plate!

      1. Andrew Brown says:

        And you know how to use one, or to interpret the readings you get? How many microcuries are safe?

  18. hickory says:

    The people of this nation should have had their boots on the ground screaming for truth about this and so many things over the past 10 yrs to put a stop to the constant outrages. Instead we do nothing and then they respond by escalating the next hit. After BP it was just one oceanic section assaulted, now it is truly THE WORLD- by land and sea. A year from today, many will be sick or dead from this, but the MSM party will roll on.

  19. david says:

    Those detectors can only detect Gamma rays, not Alpha, or Beta particles. Iodine is a Beta, and Plutonium an Alpha. So they will be telling everyone that the fish is good when it may be highly contaminated.

    1. Randy says:

      Iodine 131 decays by both Beta and Gamma, and is detectable.

      1. djh says:

        And I-131 has a half-life of 8 days. At these barely detectable levels, it will be gone in a week or so.

      2. Glow worm says:

        But cesium 137 has a half-life of 30 years, and strontium 90 has a half-life of 28 years. 10 years from now, they will tell us 1 million died, as they did with Chernobyl. Governments lie. And kill. That’s about all they do.

  20. DLO says:

    Amen! I completely agree with Vicky. A nuclear engineer working onsite at a nuclear facility is estimated to be subjected to a maximum of 200 Becquerel per year. The current radiation level found in our rain water in the Mid-Atlantic, from DC all the way to Maine is 1/25th the value the EPA considers would be dangerous. Unfortunately, 1/25th the value multiplied by water consumption of 365 days equals 200 Becquerel of radiation per year as well. How is it the EPA keeps saying these levels are safe when it is not even safe for a Nuclear engineer? The safety committees are telling us it’s safe for our babies, women, and pregnant moms it is safe to drink this water and the milk (produced from the cows that consumes the grass grown from water tainted by radiation fallout during rain). For what? To save the economy, the food industries?

    1. SL says:

      That would be the same E.P.A. that also said the air at Ground Zero posed no health hazard, and that the Gulf seafood was safe. People died/are dying as a result. Sure Eric only the “very best”, keep trying to maintain the illusion of fine cuisine, the facts are that the Oceans began their decent into hell a year ago.

    2. djh says:

      200 bec/yr = 0.005 microcuries. This limit was established because it IS safe. Why would a limit be set at an unsafe value? Engage! So, 1/25 is 0.0002 microcuries or 0.2 nanocuries. A banana from S. America contains about 0.5 nanocuries. I know this because I am a radiation health physisist at a nuclear plant and 4 bananas will alarm our tool monitors set at 2 nanocuries. And, EPA limits are based on consumption over 1 year. I’m not sure where your number came from, but I do know that the limit for tritium of 2,000 pCi/L is based on consumption of 2-liters/day/year. Also, these concentrations will not stay at these levels, they will dilute and go away quickly. However, if we assume dilution doesn’t exist and radioactive decay doesn’t exist (8-day half-life for I-131) and use your unqualified math, the extreme case is that you would have eaten an extra 182.5 bananas over the next year (3.5 bananas/week). If you think this is dangerous, read up on “radiation hormesis”.

  21. Vicky says:

    Research where the popular brands of our canned Tuna comes from, and why the FDA doesn’t want us to know how much mercury is in the tuna. If they don’t want us to know about mercury you think they will tell us about the radiation in the canned tuna?

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