The first we heard of the radiation poisoning in wild boar in Italy, was when we when we were told cinghiale was off the menu at one of our favourite restaurants in Lunigiana. The chap at the next table told us in a hushed voice that it was the result of cesium contamination of the soil following the Chernobyl accident in 1986. No contaminated boar is said to have entered the food chain but some restaurants want to be absolutely sure of the provenance of their ingredients. Certainly, we have seen cinghiale being served at other restaurants.
Routine tests on wild boar killed in the recent hunting seasons, found that 27 unfortunate creatures in the Valsesia area in Piemonte were found to be contaminated with high levels of Cesium-137. Cesium-137 results from nuclear fission and can stay in the ground for up to 30 years. Chernobyl is thought to be the most likely culprit. However, nearby decommissioned and experimental nuclear power plants are also being investigated and the dumping of toxic waste is not being ruled out. Emergency procedures are being implemented in the Alpine regions of Piemonte and Valle d’Aosta. Other species of animal will be checked for possible contamination, as will imports of wild boar into Italy.
A similar problem may have occurred in Friuli, where 11 wild boar died mysteriously, originally thought to be the result of poisoned bait. However, it now looks like their deaths could be the result of radiation from a decommissioned nuclear power plant, less than a hundred kilometres away in Slovenia.
Wild boar, it seems, are susceptible to radiation contamination, and in the last few years, there have been similar cases in Germany and Austria.
Why wild boar may not be on the menu in Lunigiana appeared on Ciao Lunigiana on 15 March 2012. All rights reserved.