The main purposes of the Agency's monitoring programme are to ensure that discharges of radioactivity do not result in unacceptable doses to people through their diet, and to check that levels of radioactivity in food are low.
The RIFE report is the only independent report of radioactivity in food covering the whole of the UK. The data are mainly used to calculate the potential dose to consumers eating locally grown food around the UK's nuclear sites. Other dose assessments are included for consumers in areas well away from nuclear sites, where sources of naturally occurring radiation are known to contribute to the radioactivity in the general diet.
The report contains sections on radiological dose assessment methods, recently published surveys and research, current legislation and updates on UK, European Union and international commitments pertinent to the radiological protection area.
Radioactivity in the environment comes from several sources, including natural radiation, residues from the Chernobyl accident and atmospheric testing, plus radioactive discharges and emissions from nuclear and non-nuclear sites. The report focuses on key information that is used to carry out assessments of food safety from radiological sources and the public’s exposure to ionising radiation around the 39 nuclear sites across the UK.
The report shows that in 2011, consumers' exposure to artificially produced radioactivity via the food chain (for aquatic, terrestrial and total dose pathways) remained below the EU annual dose limit to members of the public of 1 millisievert for all artificial sources of radiation.