Radiation checks on sheep to come to an end

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RULES designed to keep radioactive sheep out of our diets are to be abandoned on June 1.

The Food Standards Agency has decided it is no longer worth checking sheep on 327 farms in North Wales, and eight in Cumbria, for effects from the fall-out of the Chernobyl nuclear reactor explosion in Ukraine in 1986.

Some radiocaesium persists in grass in those parts because of the way the Chernobyl cloud settled and because the local soil types soaked it up. Northern Ireland and Scotland had the same problem in parts but ended movement restrictions in 2000 and 2010 respectively.

The FSA checks are designed to weed out sheep which fail a radioactivity test, so they can be put on a cleansing diet.

Nobody would be in danger from eating meat from just one but the idea was to guard against cumulative effects.

Less than five in every hundred sheep tested have been failing the tests in recent years and the FSA says it has become extremely unlikely anyone would eat enough irradiated meat to suffer any health effects. But some farmers are concerned the public will avoid lamb if they are not sure.

The decision also means farmers in the areas concerned will lose £1.30 for every sheep in the monitoring scheme, paid in compensation for the trouble of rounding them up for scanning before movement.

The FSA has published their objections and its comments at http://tinyurl.com/89l9kpe/

That summary also includes the farmer who said: “The post-Chernobyl restrictions have only been implemented for as long as they have in order to maintain the employment of those bureaucrats involved. I shall be overjoyed not to have to waste any more of my time and tax money on this nonsense.”