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Food Safety Focus (70th Issue, May 2012) – Food Incident Highlight

Radioactivity Detected in Japanese Green Tea Leaves

On 3 April 2012, the Centre for Food Safety (CFS) issued a food alert as a precautionary measure following a sample of Japanese green tea leaves collected from a local supermarket was found to have low radioactivity.

Risk assessment conducted by the CFS showed that the total internal dose for radioactive substances from consuming the green tea leaves sample for one year was about 5% of the radiation dose received during a chest X-ray examination. Hence, consuming the tea leaves concerned would not pose adverse health effects.

The CFS has stepped up food surveillance for Japanese produce since the nuclear power plant incident in March 2011. Of the 78 072 Japanese food samples tested for radiation (up to April 2012), three samples (white radish, turnip and spinach) were found to be unsatisfactory. Among all other satisfactory samples, 21 (including 19 tea samples) were found to contain radioactivity not exceeding the guideline levels of the Codex Alimentarius Commission (results available on CFS website). As in this case, these products were voluntarily suspended from sale or surrendered by importer for disposal.