food / travel

Testing Food For Fukushima Radiation, Swiss Find Chernobyl Contamination Instead

Mushroom lovers beware. Health authorities in Zurich recently destroyed 10 tons of Ukrainian mushrooms after determining that the wild fungi contained unacceptable levels of radiation.

ZURICH A food-testing lab in Zurich, Switzerland is sounding the alarm after discovering that a batch of mushrooms shipped from Ukraine contained too much radioactive cesium-137. Ukraine had cleared the mushrooms for export.

The laboratory had been on its toes last year because of the reactor catastrophe in Fukushima, Japan. It ran dozens of tests on various foods from Japan and came up with no radiation-contaminated items. Chemist Rolf Etter was all the more surprised, therefore, to find radiation in food of another provenance – Ukraine – especialle since his team stumbled upon the findings by pure chance. Yet in two of the 14 tests conducted on frozen wild Ukrainian mushrooms, tolerance levels of cesium-137 were well over the acceptable mark. The mushrooms had all been imported by the same company.

The results mean that 25 years after the nuclear disaster in Chernobyl, dangerous levels of radioactivity are still making their way into the food system. Etter said that what surprised him most was that the declared cesium values were three times lower than what was actually found in his lab's tests, and that Ukraine had cleared the shipment for export. "It makes you wonder if those declarations are worth anything at all," he said.

After learning of the results, Zurich authorities destroyed the 10-ton Ukrainian mushroom shipment. The Swiss Federal Office of Public Health is now working with its counterparts in Ukraine to ensure that there are no further problems of the sort.

Read the full story in German by Patrick Kühnis

Photo - Timm Suess

*This is a digest story, not a direct translation


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Society

Germany's Legendary Clubbing Culture Crashes Museum Space

The exhibition “Electro” in Düsseldorf is an unlikely tribute to a joyful and uninhibited club culture, with curators forced to contend with limits of a museum setting ... and another COVID lockdown.

A woman with a "Techno" tattoo in front of the famous Berghain

Boris Pofalla

DÜSSELDORF — The last party at the Berghain nightclub in Berlin lasted from Saturday evening until Monday morning. On the first weekend of December, some clubbers lined up for nine hours outside the former power plant – and still didn’t make it past the doormen. A friend said that dancing in the most famous techno club in the world on its last evening was like landing a spot in the last lifeboat to leave the sinking Titanic on 14 April 1912.

It is surely a coincidence that the first comprehensive exhibition charting the 100-year history of electronic music in Germany opened in the same week that nightclubs across the country were forced to close. It wasn’t planned that way, but it’s like opening an exhibition about the cultural history of alcohol the day after the introduction of prohibition.

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