Japan food scare spreads - The Best from Greece

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Posted on: 28/Mar/2011

GERMANY and Britain are among European Union countries that have imposed extra checks on food imports such as fish and soy sauce from Japan for radioactive contamination, food regulators said on March 23.

The moves come the day after the United States became the first country to block produce imports from areas of Japan near a cripped nuclear power plant, while Hong Kong, a major importer of Japanese food, followed suit after finding contaminated samples of spinach and turnip.

A food agency official in neighbouring South Korea has also said it is “actively” considering a ban. “Only 0.1 percent of food imports received by the UK come from Japan, but any food that is found to have levels of radiation above the legal limits will be prevented from entering the country,” Britain’s Food Standards Agency (FSA) said in a statement on March 23.

The United States ban covers all milk, milk products and fresh fruit and vegetables from four Japanese perfectures - Fukushima, Ibaraki, Tochigi and Gunma. Above-safety radiation levels have been discovered in 11 types of vegetables from the Fukushima area in northeast Japan where a six-reactor nuclear plant was battered by a March 11 earthquake and tsunami, the Japanese government has said.

Τhe European Commission has recommended member states carry out reinforced checks on food imports from Japan, a spokesman said on March 23. The EU imported 65 million euros of food and food products from Japan in 2010 with Germany the biggest importer with 17 million euros followed by the Netherlands (11 million euros) and Britain (8 million euros). Imports include scallops, shellfish, petfood, and 9,000 tonnes of plant products such as soy sauce, green tea, seaweed.

In Hong Kong, however, a ban on food and milk products from five prefectures in Japan was imposed after samples of turnip and spinach showed contaminants 2.6 to 10 times over the permissible limit.

France has asked the EU to look into a harmonised system of controls on radioactivity in food and feed imports from Japan, officials said on March 22.

‘Send us your rice and soy sauce’

THE NATIONAL Confederation of Greek Commerce (ESEE) issued a written statement on March 23 stressing the need for the Greek market not to turn its back on Japanese commerce. “We declare our complete trust in Japanese control mechanisms on exports to Greece and especially for foodstuffs,” said the group which represents more than 200 business associations around the country. Annual Japanese exports to Greece total one million euros - it’s 160 tonnes of snack foods, nuts, canned fruit, soy sauce, rice and animal feed.

Ιn numbers

* The evacuation area around a quake-stricken nuclear plant in northeastern Japan was expanded to a 20km radius from 10km on March 12. Since then, around 177,500 residents have evacuated from the zone. The government has also told people within 30km of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex, some 240km north of Tokyo, to stay indoors
* A total of 209,354 households in the north were without electricity as of March 23, Tohuku Electric Power Co said, down from 212,472 earlier in the day
* At least 660,000 households in 10 prefectures were without running water, the health ministry said on March 23, down from 760,000 the day before

Back to work

ENGINEERS resumed work at Japan’s quake-hit Fukushima nuclear reactor (No 3) on March 24 after suspending it for nearly a day, Kyodo news agency said. The plant operator had suspended work after black smoke was seen from the reactor on March 23.

source: http://www.athensnews.gr/issue/13436/39609

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