Nightly News   |  April 06, 2011

Top Chef judge stops serving Japanese seafood

While so far none of the fish being imported from Japan have tested positive for radiation in the wake of that country's nuclear disaster, high-profile restaurant proprietors like Chef Eric Ripert of Le Bernadin have stopped serving it altogether in response to what he calls "paranoia in some of our clients." NBC's Miguel Almaguer reports.

Share This:

This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> we're back now as promised with more on this nuclear disaster in japan . let's talk about the effects here. and here is a map of the states that have detected radiation all the way from japan . it's now being reported in trace amounts in milk in some western states and in the water in places like idaho and washington state . and what about all that water, millions of gallons of it highly radioactive that was dumped into the pacific ocean for days on end? we've all been told it will dissipate, but how can this not be harmful? nbc's miguel almaguer on the pacific coast tonight on the beach in santa monica . miguel , it's over your shoulder if you keep on going a long way.

>> reporter: that's true, brian. good evening. although there's many concerns about what's going on in the water in japan , that toxic water that's been discovered there, so many people here at home are worried about what's happening right here. the mackerel yellowtail and thai snapper told at this los angeles seafood distributor is less than 40 hours old. fresh fish direct from japan . $236 million industry last year alone. this seafood is headed straight to consumers, safe to sell and eat, according to federal inspectors who were here yesterday.

>> if there was any question at all, first of all, it wouldn't be allowed into the united states . secondary, we really wouldn't bring it in here on our showroom.

>> reporter: the food and drug administration says it's ramped up inspections of japanese food but so far none of the fish have tested positive for radiation.

>> fda has examined almost a thousand entries of seafood products. people should feel confident in the saft toef food supply .

>> reporter: still many consumers and businesses are worried. in new york.

>> we detect absolutely zero.

>> reporter: the chef stopped serving fish from japan altogether. as an an extra precaution, he uses a radiation detector to test the fish he does sell.

>> i started to seattle bit of paranoia in some of our clients. some of our staff was also concerned, myself included.

>> reporter: concerned because radioactive water has been discovered in japan and contaminated fish have been found off the coast.

>> no, there is no immediate danger.

>> reporter: but oceanographers say there's no reason to be alarmed. any radioactive contamination could take years to reach the west coast . and it would all likely dissipate out at sea.

>> i don't think swimming in california or in hawaii is a threat as of now, and i don't expect it to be a significant threat in the next several months.

>> reporter: the bottom line, experts are in agreement. there's no threat to our water or our food, and as you can see, brian, california's coastline is still as beautiful as ever.

>> miguel , thanks. we've got a lot riding on that word "dissipate." miguel almaguer in santa monica tonight.