Use of Fukushima food in school lunches recovers to nearly 30%

Food ingredients produced in Fukushima Prefecture accounted for 27.3% of the total used in local school lunches in fiscal 2015, up 5.4 percentage points from the previous year, according to data compiled by the prefectural education board. The proportion of Fukushima food used in school lunches thus recovered close to the 30% mark seen before the 2011 nuclear disaster, board officials told a meeting of prefectural assembly members in charge of policy affairs on Jan. 14. The ratio was 36.1% in fiscal 2010, which ended on March 31, 2011, just 20 days after the nuclear accident at Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima Daiichi plant. The board abandoned the annual school lunch survey the following year due to lingering effects of the disaster but a resumed survey in fiscal 2012 found the proportion fell below 20% to 18.3%. However, it has been on the rise since fiscal 2013. The board publishes on its website the results of regular checkups on radioactive substances in food ingredients used for school lunches. Meanwhile, municipal education boards have been trying to make residents aware of the safety of prefectural products by, for example, inviting schoolchildren's parents to events to taste school lunches. The prefectural board believes that these efforts have led parents to better understand the use of local rice, vegetables and other ingredients in school lunches. (Translated by Kyodo News)