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Hong Kong to prohibit imports of fresh produce and milk products from five prefectures in Japan (with photo)

The Centre for Food Safety (CFS) of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) announced today (March 23) that it would prohibit from noon tomorrow (March 24) imports of Japanese food --- milk, milk beverages, dried milk, vegetables, fruits, chilled or frozen game, meat and poultry, poultry eggs, and live, chilled or frozen aquatic products --- harvested, manufactured, processed or packed on or after March 11 from five prefectures in Japan. They are Fukushima, Ibaraki, Tochigi, Gunma and Chiba.

The CFS will also prohibit the supply, within Hong Kong, of the aforesaid food imported into the territory after noon tomorrow.

Chilled or frozen game, meat and poultry, poultry eggs, and live, chilled or frozen aquatic products will be excluded from the ban if they are certified by the competent authority of Japan that the radiation levels do not exceed the standards laid down by the Codex Alimentarius Commission in the Guideline Levels for Radionuclides in Foods Contaminated following a Nuclear or Radiological Emergency.

"A radioactive substance, Iodine-131, was detected in three samples, including a radish sample at 260 bq/kg and a turnip sample at 800 bq/kg from one batch, and a spinach sample at 1000 bq/kg, from two consignments of imported Japanese food by the CFS' Contamination Monitoring System and the Government Laboratory. The radiation levels of the three samples exceed the standards set by the Codex Alimentarius Commission," a CFS spokesman said.

"Although consumption of the food will not pose immediate health risks, the CFS made the decision to safeguard food safety and public health."

The Director of Food and Environmental Hygiene is empowered to make an order to prohibit the import of any food under Section 78B of the Public Health and Municipal Services Ordinance (Cap. 132).

"As for other processed food imported from Japan, for example, biscuits, candies, cakes and frozen confections, the CFS will continue to strengthen surveillance at the import level by conducting tests for radiation level," the spokesman added.

In view of the incident of radiation leak at the Fukushima nuclear plant, the CFS has stepped up surveillance on fresh produce from Japan and conducted radiological testing since March 12.

"The CFS will continue to liaise with the Consulate General of Japan in Hong Kong for more information. The Centre has briefed the trade about the new arrangements. We shall continue to monitor closely the latest developments in Japan so as to take timely follow-up actions," the spokesman said.

Ends/Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Issued at HKT 22:39


Photo shows part of a consignment of spinach imported from Japan, from which a sample was taken for testing of radiation level. The sample was detected today (March 23) to have radiation level (Iodine-131) exceeding the standards laid down by the Codex Alimentarius Commission in the Guideline Levels for Radionuclides in Foods Contaminated following a Nuclear or Radiological Emergency.

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Last revision date:24-03-2011