Radioactivity in sold natural produce

With regard to radiation dose, the most important food categories are natural produce and drinking water. The Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (STUK) monitors the radioactivity of food on sale by taking samples once a year from various natural products, such as berries, mushrooms, game and fish sold in Helsinki, Tampere and Rovaniemi.

Maximum values for food

According to the Council Regulation, the maximum level of cesium-137 in food products imported to the European Union area is 600 becquerels per kilogram (Council Regulation 733/2008, in force until March 2020 under Council Regulation 1048/2009). According to the European Commission recommendation (2003/274/Euratom), the same concentration limit should be applied to natural produce sold in the EU countries.

The cesium-137 (Cs-137) concentrations of natural produce bought from the stores and market places in Helsinki, Tampere and Rovaniemi in the autumn every year vary between products. Wild berries contain less cesium than mushrooms and game, and therefore berries are currently measured only every five years (measured last in 2018).

The activity concentration of cesium in mushroom samples may exceed the limit value 600 becquerels per kilogram (Bq/kg) set in the European Commission recommendation, but even heavy consumption of wild mushrooms does not increase the annual radiation dose significantly. Computationally, a person consuming 6 kg of wild mushrooms annually will receive a dose of 40 microsieverts of the mushrooms’ cesium. This equals less than one per cent of the average annual radiation dose of Finns.

The cesium concentration in game and reindeer meat depends on what the animals eat, but the concentration usually remains below 600 Bq/kg.

Cesium concentrations in freshwater fish vary between different parts of Finland and between individual lakes. The highest concentrations are detected in large carnivorous fish. The activity concentrations of cesium in fish in the Baltic Sea are low.

Cs-137 concentrations (Bq/kg fresh weight) in samples taken from grocery stores in 2022.

Food 137Cs, Bq/kg (Number of samples)
Helsinki Tampere Rovaniemi
Venison - - 31 (1) - -
Venison 14-240 (5) 96-340 (2) 61 (1)
Reindeer meat - - - - 32-100 (8)
Wild mushrooms  4–190 (16) 25-350 (9) 3-190 (3)
Freshwater fish 1–23 (5) 7-32 (6) 5-75 (7)