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Page added on March 24, 2011

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Australia New Zealand Ban Japanese Food Imports

Enviroment

AUSTRALIA has halted food imports from four Japanese prefectures because of concerns over radiation contamination from the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster.

Food Standards Australia New Zealand has requested a holding order for all food originating from the Fukushima, Gunma, Ibaraki and Tochigi prefectures in Japan’s north.

Australia, Canada and Singapore have joined a list of countries shunning or limiting Japanese food imports. The US, Hong Kong and Russia have already restricted Japanese food, and France wants the EU to do the same.

Russia’s head of consumer protection said yesterday that foods from these four provinces would now be stopped at the border even without radiation checks.

The Philippines has banned Japanese chocolate imports.

“Food safety issues are an additional dimension of the emergency,” said three UN agencies in a joint statement issued in Geneva, pledging they were “committed to mobilising their knowledge and expertise” to help Japan.

The International Atomic Energy Agency, World Health Organisation and Food and Agriculture Organisation said Japan was taking the right actions.

“Food monitoring is being implemented, measurements of radioactivity in food are taking place, and the results are being communicated publicly,” the agencies said.

While the suspect products include milk, fresh fruit and vegetables, the Department of Health said Australia did not usually accept many Japanese milk or fresh produce imports.

“Imports are limited to a small range of specialty products, for example seaweed-based products, sauces etc,” the department said.

“FSANZ remains of the view that the risk of Australian consumers being exposed to radionuclides in food imported from Japan is negligible.” The Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service has enacted the order.

The holding order would remain indefinitely until FSANZ, AQIS and the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency were satisfied that the food imports are safe for release, a Health Department spokeswoman said.

The US Food and Drug Administration banned imports of food and dairy products from around the plant yesterday as fears over the extent of food contamination continued.

The Australian



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