April 6th, 2011
11:15 PM ET
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In light of health concerns, celebrity chef Eric Ripert is employing radiation detection equipment to allay the fears of nervous diners, but he's not giving up on Japanese seafood.

Read more about the measures the Japanese government is taking to ensure that its seafood remains safe.

Previously – The man behind Eric Ripert's seafood empire – fish butcher Justo Thomas

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Filed under: Celebrity Chefs • Content Partner • Disaster • Environment • Eric Ripert • Fishing • Health News • Japan • Ocean • Radiation • Tainted Food • TV-John King U.S.A.

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soundoff (71 Responses)
  1. JJ

    Too bad the device he is using is not meant to test radiation in food. It's actually rather low end. even if it was toxic with radiation it would not show up until very hot. So he is just trying to make people feel better his tests mean nothing.
    From manual on seintl.com website. Model is Analog Monitor 4ec

    Some forms of radiation are very difficult or impossible for a Geiger tube to detect. Tritium is a by-product of a nuclear
    reactor and is used in research. The beta emissions from Tritium are so weak that there is very little instrumentation that
    is capable of detecting it. Other examples of when more sophisticated equipment is needed are for the measurement of
    contamination in environmental samples, such as radioactivity in milk, produce, soil, etc

    Unless you know exactly what you are measuring and understand the limitations of detection instruments, it is possible
    to draw misleading conclusions from your readings. We designed our instruments to be able to detect the broadest
    range of ionizing radiation possible and remain in the price range of the average person.

    April 16, 2011 at 1:02 am |
  2. Brian F.

    I cannot believe the amount of people commenting that this is media hype and paranoia. Clearly, we are becoming a nation of uneducated idiots if you do not think irradiated food to such extent is not a danger. I suppose the oil spill in the gulf had no effect too, because "it's a LARGE ocean," as per Jim the Engineer. Stop the planet and let me off.

    April 7, 2011 at 5:26 pm |

    David you are mostly corrrect... Iodine 131 is predominately a Beta emitter with a very weak gamma... the contamination will be inside the meat of the fish and not detectable with a handheld meter until the levels get pretty high.... liquid scintillation or a GeLi unit is preferrable to get down to levels that would be just above background.... they do make single channel gamma analyzers for the field now but very expensive...
    anyway he is not doing real rad science... just trying to placate folks with the cool meter, clicks, etc

    April 7, 2011 at 2:11 pm |
  4. Jack

    Would you eat fish from Japan that hasn't been tested? The government should be testing these products before there sold. My bad, some people would prefer that not happen as it hurts business and costs taxpayers money.

    April 7, 2011 at 9:57 am |
  5. g.h.

    to Dover, conspiracy theories??? High levels of radioactive water IS or supposedly was pouring into the sea from Japan...hello

    April 7, 2011 at 9:55 am |
  6. David

    To get the best measurement he should be using a liquid scintilation counter. A simple Geiger counter won't tell the whole story.
    Dr Atomic.

    April 7, 2011 at 9:39 am |
    • Tony B.

      Is a liquid scintilation counter available on your over-sized Star Trek utility belt?

      April 7, 2011 at 9:46 am |
      • David

        Well, maybe they will in the future, but the last device of this type I worked with (admittedly many years ago) was the size of a refrigerator.
        The problem with a Geiger counter is that it depends on the detection of ionization events in a gas. Its not very good at detecting particulate emisions, the Beta and Alpha's. It certainly cannot distinguish the particulate emisions of one isotope versus another.
        In a liquid scintilation counter a sample of the test material is suspended in solution with a flourescent material. Even radiation that only travels millimeters or less produces flashes that can be detected. Those Alpha and Beta particles can cause the most damage, when they are actually emited INSIDE your body.

        April 7, 2011 at 10:21 am |
  7. Hilo, HI

    Japan's floating fish factories are critically depleting the Pacific. Now the nuclear crisis is contaminating vast areas. (http://vimeo.com/21999627, 1 projection of spread) But, hey, help the elite party on worry free.

    April 7, 2011 at 9:04 am |
    • Hilo, HI

      This headline is so misleading, this chef a disappointment. By 'radical' I thought he was doing something along the lines of the culinary magician Susan Spicer (Bayona's, New Orleans). Not only one of the world's top chefs, Spicer has used her celebrity as a force of important changes as a 'food activist' for important causes like the Chesapeake Bay Recovery -and that was before her work as a leader advocating for her own Gulf of Mexico.
      The Gulf produced 80% of the nations seafood b/f the BP spill. Louisiana seafood was as much the soul of the people there as jazz. : (

      April 7, 2011 at 9:14 am |
      • Kat Kinsman

        We love Susan Spicer and have done a lot of coverage on her, John Besh and other chefs who won't shut up.

        Here's just a taste: http://eatocracy.cnn.com/2011/02/17/oysters-stage-a-comeback-after-bp-disaster/

        April 7, 2011 at 9:36 am |
      • Hilo, HI

        Kat, Thank You!
        It's awful to feel like the voice of a downer here, but such is the world we live in now (Was Julia Childs worried about arsenic, radiation, over-fishing!). I want to 'Eat, Drink and Be Merry' too, but not under a veil of denial.
        If there's something we should not be doing (certain fish restrictions due to stock depletion, etc) I want to see that upfront. I will make sacrifices and accommodations to do my part.
        The people who make their livings this way, such as master chefs, know it well. I don't think they can avoid advocating for the well being of their 'supply' much longer.

        April 7, 2011 at 9:47 am |
  8. Mack

    Nice to know that the only time they worry about the state of the ocean is when it affects them shoving it in their mouth

    April 7, 2011 at 8:46 am |
    • Flippity Flappity

      Wow, spot on with hat comment. I don't think there is anything that humans won't consume. Piehole whores.

      April 7, 2011 at 8:53 am |
    • Hilo, HI

      Here. Here.
      (Please see my post below about nola's Susan Spicer. I found her work regarding the health of the places where her 5 star fare is born and raised encouraging.)

      April 7, 2011 at 9:37 am |
  9. J0nx

    The same government that said the BP oil spill is contained and that there are no long lasting health concerns. Eat Japanese sushi at your own peril folks. Use common sense and believe the exact opposite of what the government tells you.

    April 7, 2011 at 8:45 am |
    • Elizabeth

      And you are better off eating Gulf shrimp than Japanese fish... the chemicals used in the shrimp farming in S.E. Asia are much more dangerous than Gulf shrimp. But fish swim everywhere... and Japanese fishermen have been fishing around the world for a long time. Just expect them to disregard even more rules on limits of fish in other waters.

      April 7, 2011 at 9:03 am |
      • Rube Goldberg

        Japan isn't in Southeast Asia, genius.

        April 7, 2011 at 9:14 am |
      • Hilo, HI

        GULF SHRIMP & OYSTERS ARE NO LONGER SAFE FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION. (few TX & west-LA beds exceptions, but no one trusts it) THOSE NEW ORLEANS RESTAURANTS ARE CLOSED or SWITCHED TO CRAWFISH & CATFISH (farmed) nola.com (New Orleans paper) archive a bit.
        This springs dolphin deliveries were all still births washing up on the beaches. The culprit? -100s of tons of 'oil eaters', arsenic dispersants. (that The People Did NOT Want -they hated the oil, but knew the chemicals would be worse. So why was it done? BP was 'liable' for damages measured by Visible sq. mi)
        Also, purple marlins drop out of the air onto ships by the 100s migrating LA to Costa Rica, just from the air of it.
        Waiting to see what evaporated and raining over the Corn Belt for years will do -hey, maybe another 'no worried' story (ad) on CNN about testing the veggies too!

        April 7, 2011 at 9:32 am |
  10. montyhp

    Is he also testing for mercury? It is a bigger risk.

    April 7, 2011 at 8:20 am |
    • Elizabeth

      mercury, dioxin, poly-vinyl chloride, arsenic...

      April 7, 2011 at 9:00 am |
      • Tony B.

        Salmonella, ptomaine, E. coli., FUGU... ;-)

        April 7, 2011 at 9:45 am |
  11. conradshull

    Chefs are experts at this sort of thing. Let the engineers do the cooking.

    April 7, 2011 at 8:11 am |
    • Hilo, HI


      April 7, 2011 at 9:19 am |
  12. Gabor47

    The reactor in Japan didn't melt down as it did in Chernobyl, and if it didn't up until now, it won't. Any real danger for the rest of the world is OVER. What we are reading in the media are the products of the anti-nuclear power crowd trying to scare the daylight out of people. Don't buy it.

    April 7, 2011 at 7:55 am |
    • AleeD

      [Seriously] Oh thank the Higher Powers – a sane & eloquent voice! Thank YOU!

      Do you see a reason for scaring the beejeebers out of people?

      April 7, 2011 at 7:58 am |
      • Glenn Beck

        Is this the FOX News Blog?

        April 7, 2011 at 8:06 am |
    • Elizabeth

      If you won't pay for medicare (the recent tea-party rant), that means that when the increased number of cancer cases needs treatment, you will let them die. If you share such beliefs as the tea party, you are anti-human. Scientists claim that Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed by a fly-by meteor: just remember that God has good aim.

      April 7, 2011 at 8:58 am |
  13. lol

    Lots of morons commenting on this story. As usual.

    April 7, 2011 at 6:44 am |
    • Master of the Obvious

      Thank goodness you took the time to contribute such a witty quip. You should consider becoming a writer with such talent!

      April 7, 2011 at 7:10 am |
      • Jerv

        Good god, what do you drink in the morning, battery acid?

        April 7, 2011 at 7:20 am |
      • AleeD@Jerv

        Apparently someone p!ssed in "Obvious's" cornflakes.

        April 7, 2011 at 7:59 am |
  14. How can you NOT know who Eric Ripert is?

    Steven Brooks, your ignorance is noteworthy and doesn't complement your arrogance very well.

    April 7, 2011 at 6:36 am |
  15. edible music flutes

    the big ping pong ball was made of several little ping pong balls . there was a little ping pong ball in the middle full of palm size ping pong balls . each palm size was a gear stuff . and each was wound with a flash light . one gear to power the lights . one to enhance lift and thrust . one to power the sprinklers . one to reroute the compost for fertilize such . and one was to operate the vibrating bed

    April 7, 2011 at 6:33 am |
    • lol


      April 7, 2011 at 6:46 am |
  16. Ed

    as an American Culinary Federation student...this guy is and idiot! just trying to make a name for himself. Every good chef knows that seafood is inspected from overseas and radiation is present but not in quantities harmful to humans. Radiation test from hand held devices does not tell you how much radiation is actually present inside the product.

    April 7, 2011 at 5:55 am |
    • stan

      Ed, You must be the poster boy for the federation

      April 7, 2011 at 6:53 am |
    • ArlVa81

      As an American Culinary Federation student, you should know that Eric Ripert has already made quite a name for himself. This has nothing to do with publicity. By the way, which ACF accredited school are you attending?

      April 7, 2011 at 7:10 am |
      • tivo

        The refreshing thing about Ripert is that he can actually cook great food, unlike many of the "celebrity chefs" out there. (We see you, Giada. Stop laughing, Paula- we see you too. Andrew Zimmern can't boil water. And don't get me started on Rachel bleeping Ray.)

        April 7, 2011 at 9:45 am |
    • dc

      Yeah, ERIC RIPERT is an idiot when it comes to Japanese seafood. My advice to you? Quit culinary school before you get shivved by a line cook who's sick of you critiquing his fillets because you're so much smarter than Eric Ripert.

      Oh, and if you do decide to stay, I'd stop publicly ripping other cooks. You might need a job from someone who used to cook for someone who used to be a Sous for someone who used to do prep for the person you ripped. It's a very tight-knit industry. Everyone is in everyone's business, and everyone will know yours.

      April 7, 2011 at 8:27 am |
    • Elizabeth

      What is on the external fish is not the same as what is inside. But that goes for PCBs and dioxin too. If you try to get a fishing license in some states, it will say not to eat fish more than once a month, and not the fat of the fish, because poly vinyl chloride is there, and dioxin, and that causes as many health problems as cancer. Sorry folks, you may be all over this guy for saying this in cooking school, but he might switch professions too. Who knows? You might run into him as a radiologist, or an oncology nurse when you get treated.

      April 7, 2011 at 8:54 am |
    • Tony B.

      You're a STUDENT, and you're already spouting off like some know-it-all? Jesus, kid, I hope you're not studying in Hyde Park, because you're pouring your money down the grease trap. You'll never earn the respect of a culinary team in the real world keeping that kind of attitude. Have fun in your future career as a prep boy at some second-rate country club in the Adirondacks. That's as far as you'll go with that condescending air about you. Trust me on this one. Veritas, baby.

      April 7, 2011 at 9:34 am |
  17. Jim Williams

    I think its great that your testing food for radiation, the ocean current cirirculates, fish may be good today but what about next year? I doubt this is the last nuclear accident, skeptical we hgave seen the last of the current problem, if something happens 20 years from now there will something to compare it to. data is good, also restaurants should do this in more than one location, wind blows in different jet streams, a locally grown garden may be different all over the world.

    April 7, 2011 at 3:57 am |
    • Elizabeth

      Right. The "half-life" of Cessium is 30 years. But "half-life" does not mean it's gone away, just half of it. Then in another 30 years, half of that will go away, etc. I'm more concerned that the Japanese fishermen have been fishing in the Atlantic for many many years, without regard to limits. They don't care about conservation, and bottom line, we shouldn't eat their food for that reason, not radiation.

      April 7, 2011 at 8:47 am |
  18. Steven Brooks

    WHO? 'Celebrity chef'?

    Excuse me and the rest of the country while we laugh out loud.

    This is a non-story, grasping for straws.

    Please do better in the future.

    April 7, 2011 at 3:41 am |
    • Brian

      Anyone savvy about fine dining knows the name Eric Ripert.

      April 7, 2011 at 3:53 am |
      • Steven Brooks

        Please – don't believe that your limited, subjective experience reflects the reality of the rest of the world, even the minority who have experience with 'fine dining'.

        April 7, 2011 at 4:27 am |
    • Josh

      That is so ridiculous! Probably increasing public fear, not decreasing

      April 7, 2011 at 5:21 am |
    • AleeD@Steven Brooks

      Sooooo, it's a "non-story" because YOU don't know who it is? Wow. A+ in arrogance, man! Get educated then come back and make informed snide remarks.

      Ignorance can be cured; stupidity is forever.

      April 7, 2011 at 7:28 am |
    • Harry

      Wow. Jealous much?

      April 7, 2011 at 7:58 am |
    • Andrew

      Steven, you must eat at McDonald's alot. Eric Ripert is a world-renowned chef, not some FoodNetwork hack...

      April 7, 2011 at 9:14 am |
    • Zipvip

      Just an attention grabber, I guess that comes with the celebrity part. He is also a good business man, taking every opportunity to advertise himself by evoking, in this case, the psychology of fear. And it all seems to work, I didn’t know who was before and now not only I know who he is but he also made me write this post. Would I buy anything with his name or from his restaurant, answer to that is no, but by clicking on this video/article I probably contributed to his celebrity status and by virtue of that he will make more money by promoting himself on TV by claiming me as one of his follower/viewer etc.

      April 7, 2011 at 9:15 am |
    • JJ Jones

      Eric Ripert is an internationally known chef. He's doing just fine for himself.

      April 7, 2011 at 9:20 am |
      • Zipvip

        I am just reasoning the fact why is doing just fine. Cooking is probably the most overrated profession that requires minimal skills.

        April 7, 2011 at 9:27 am |
    • Tony B.

      You're obviously not inside any culinary circles, Steven. Every executive chef, sous chef, and culinary student in North America and the world knows who Eric Ripert is. Non-chef gastronomes also know who he is. He may not be a celebrity chef in the sense of that sellout Emeril, with his "essence" crap and semi-decent cookware, or that schlub with a horrid smoker's voice, Rachel Ray. However, anyone who appreciates culinary genius in the same company of Jacques Pepin, Grant Achatz, Tim Love, et al., knows exactly who this guy is. Now go back to your USDA Select "steaks" at Sizzler and your Moon Pies, and leave those with platinum palates alone. Twit.

      April 7, 2011 at 9:26 am |
      • Dr. Phil@Tony B.

        Zipvip is a troll.
        He's just trying to push anyone's buttons.
        Please don't feel the trolls (PDFTT).

        April 7, 2011 at 9:30 am |
      • Ellie S.

        Well said, Tony. Excuse CNN for not occasionally appealing to the lowest common denominator of Americans. I guess Eric Ripert is too "elite" for some of the posters here. I've even heard he might eat arugula instead of iceberg lettuce!!!

        April 7, 2011 at 6:42 pm |
    • Steve

      Who elected you representative of the entire country? And which country at that?? Testing for radiation makes sense, it might be a little gimmicky, but hey if customers are concerned about it, then it makes perfect business sense to do it and I thought it was an interesting bit of information. I don't see how you can criticize CNN for reporting on this? Just because you don't know who Eric Ripert is doesn't mean its not newsworthy.... you are not, after all, the center of the universe, Steven. Now go to your room and think about what you've done.

      April 7, 2011 at 9:57 am |
  19. mmhm

    all should be doing it

    April 7, 2011 at 2:54 am |
    • Sammi

      I agree.

      April 7, 2011 at 7:50 am |
  20. Morgy

    He can do whatever he wants, as long as it's not that dink Jaime Oliver. I'm so sick of him. Let me eat what I want!

    April 7, 2011 at 2:44 am |
    • Harry

      ...said the fat chick.

      April 7, 2011 at 7:56 am |
  21. Wzrd1

    Uh huh. So, he's testing seafood in NEW YORK for radiation from JAPAN.
    Well, he got a free commercial from CNN.

    April 7, 2011 at 2:07 am |
    • Kat Kinsman

      He is known for serving fish from Japan at his restaurant. I think it's more to assuage diners' fears than anything.

      April 7, 2011 at 2:17 am |
    • Dover

      Another paranoiac. You do realize it is common practice for restaurants to import ingredients from all over the world right? Why are so many simpletons hell bent on conspiracy theories?

      April 7, 2011 at 3:02 am |
      • Jerv@Dover

        Damn good point, Dov!

        April 7, 2011 at 7:11 am |
      • Lee Harvey Oswald

        I had NOTHING to do with the assassination! Check out the Dallas Police Dept. Just sayin'.

        April 7, 2011 at 7:16 am |
      • John Wilkes Booth

        I swear it wasn't me, the butler did it.

        April 7, 2011 at 7:19 am |
      • MEngineer

        Paranoid? This makes complete sense. Japan has admitted to dumping radioactive water in the ocean and we know that within that water are plutonium alpha particles from the MOX reactor (No. 2 reactor). These have 10X the biological effect of beta particles (the iodide 131 and cesium 137 the news talks about), and he has every reason to ensure his customers safety. This allows him to not alter his normal supply of fish, but still ensure a healthy non radioactive menu. If you truly believe there is no risk in eating seafood from japan you are ignorant.

        April 7, 2011 at 8:39 am |
      • Jim


        It affects a small portion of the shore... you do remember there is a very LARGE ocean. You on the other hand are just being drawn into the media hype. The media is a business, this makes them money by showing stories that stir up emotions while not fully explaining the situations...

        April 7, 2011 at 9:33 am |
    • Say it again Sam

      A nuclear engineer working onsite at a nuclear facility is estimated to be subjected to a maximum of 200 Becquerel per year. The current radiation level found in our rain water in the Mid-Atlantic, from DC all the way to Maine is 1/25th the value the EPA considers would be dangerous. Unfortunately, 1/25th the value multiplied by water consumption of 365 days equals 200 Becquerel of radiation per year as well. How is it the EPA keeps saying these levels are safe when it is not even safe for a Nuclear engineer?

      These celebrity chef radiation detectors don't even measure radioactive iodine or plutonium radiation. Look it up, folks. This is a feel good story to let us know even the "best" chefs in the country have the sitch under control. Nothing to worry over...Think positively, I say, but MAKE SURE YOU THINK!

      April 7, 2011 at 9:39 am |
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