Japan’s Dolphin Meat Contains Mercury Levels up to 100 Times the Safe Limit, Tests Show
Marine conservation group, Action for Dolphins (AFD), has lodged a complaint with police in Japan, demanding the removal of ‘toxic’ dolphin meat from sale.
A recent test carried out by a Japanese laboratory found that a sample of Risso’s dolphin offal exceeded the government’s recommended safe level of mercury by up to 97.5 times, while another package of the same product showed mercury levels 80 times higher than the limit. AFD, based in Australia, warned that regular consumption of the meat could pose health risks to consumers.
Marine conservation group, Action for Dolphins (AFD), has ordered the removal of dolphin meat from sale in Japan following a test carried out on samples of Risso’s dolphin offal purchased from the Yahoo! Japan website. A laboratory in Japan found that the meat contained mercury levels up to 97.5 times higher than the government’s safe limit.
AFD’s chief executive, Hannah Tait, expressed concern over the lack of information and labelling on the meat, which can be bought by anyone, including pregnant women. The group has lodged a complaint with police and is calling for the removal of the meat from supermarkets, restaurants, and Yahoo! Japan’s online platform.
AFD’s complaint to police in Japan over the sale of mercury-contaminated dolphin meat on Yahoo! Japan’s website has led to calls for the product to be removed from supermarket shelves and restaurant menus. The complaint argues that the sale of the meat breaches Japanese food sanitation laws. Yahoo! Japan has denied that it sells dolphin meat on its website and only offers whale meat.
A laboratory test carried out on samples of Risso’s dolphin offal bought on the Yahoo! Japan site revealed levels of mercury up to 97.5 times higher than the Japanese government’s safe limit. The Action for Dolphins group has warned that continued consumption of the toxic meat could pose a serious health risk to consumers.
Action for Dolphins (AFD) has submitted a complaint with police in central Japan, demanding the removal of “toxic” dolphin meat from sale in the country. The complaint followed a test on a sample of Risso’s dolphin offal purchased by an AFD investigator from Yahoo! Japan.
The laboratory test showed that the meat exceeded government-set regulatory limits for mercury by up to 97.5 times. A second package of Risso’s dolphin offal showed mercury levels 80 times higher than the safe limit. AFD has called for the removal of the meat from sale in supermarkets, restaurants, and Yahoo! Japan’s online platform. The complaint has been submitted by the Tokyo-based law office of Takashi Takano.
The campaign to end dolphin hunting in Taiji, where the annual slaughter of hundreds of dolphins takes place, has been ongoing, with Action for Dolphins (AFD) being one of the main organizations involved.
In 2020 and 2021, tests conducted by AFD revealed mercury levels in dolphin meat between 12 and 25 times the regulatory limit. A criminal complaint against the sale of toxic whale and dolphin meat was launched by AFD in 2021, but prosecutors decided not to take action. Studies of people who regularly consume cetacean products show that mercury and other contaminants can have an adverse effect on foetal development, neural development and memory, as well as increasing the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease, hypertension and arteriosclerosis in adults.
A 2010 study by the National Institute for Minamata Disease found that levels of mercury detected in Taiji residents were above the national average, probably due to their consumption of whale and dolphin meat. However, further tests found that they had suffered no ill effects.