The Japanese government announced earlier its plan of discharging the wastewater from the Fukushima nuclear power plant into the ocean in about two years. The Center for Food Safety (CFS) is deeply concerned about the incident and the safety of food imported from Japan. The CFS will continue to communicate with the Japanese authorities and actively request for the provision of more relevant information. The CFS will keep on monitoring the latest developments in related matters closely, including the specific arrangements for the discharge of wastewater by the Japanese authorities, radiation test results, and assessments by international expert organizations. It will also review the monitoring and regulatory arrangements for imported food from Japan.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
|It has been circulating on the internet that ‘the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued Import Alert #99-33 to prohibit the import of Japanese food products due to radionuclide contamination. The food products include milk, butter, dried milk, milk-based infant formula and other milk products, vegetables and vegetable products, rice, whole grain, fish, meat and poultry, venus clams, sea urchin, yuzu fruit, kiwi fruit. So it is better not to eat them!’ Does Hong Kong's import control of Japanese foods suffice? Is it more lenient than other countries?|
Export control measures adopted in Japan
After the incident at Tokyo Electric Power Company's Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station in March 2011, the Japanese Government has instituted a series of remedial measures to ensure the safety of domestic and exported food supplies, such as tightening the regulatory limits of radionuclide levels in food, monitoring of food and materials for agricultural production, restricting distribution of food products with radionuclide levels that exceed the regulatory limits, as well as decontamination of farmland. For details, please refer to website of Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare of Japan.
Import control of Japanese food products by the United States (US)
In the wake of Fukushima Daiichi incident, individual country / region has implemented measures deemed fit to the local circumstances and risk assessment results. As such, the number of prefectures and categories of food products covered under their import control measures may differ from those implemented in Hong Kong. In the US, for example, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) imposes import restriction on Japanese foods (Import Alert 99-33) by making reference to the list of food products that are restricted from export by the Japanese Government. When the Japanese Government updates the list based on their food surveillance results (the list can be found on the website of Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare of Japan, the FDA makes changes to the import alert accordingly. In other words, the Japanese food products and prefectures subject to import restrictions in the US mirror the export prohibition measures taken by Japan.
Import control of Japanese food products by the Centre for Food Safety (CFS)
In response to the Fukushima nuclear power plant incident in Japan in 2011, the Director of Food and Environmental Hygiene has issued an order to prohibit the import of a number of affected Japanese food products. The CFS has also enhanced monitoring and testing of food imported from Japan for radiation at the import, wholesale and retail levels. The public might wonder whether these control measures can adequately protect public health, noting that the restrictions on Japanese food imports vary by countries/regions.
Currently, apart from the food items that are restricted from export by the Japanese authorities(the list can be found on the website of Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare of Japan), Hong Kong has banned all vegetables and fruit, milk, milk beverages and dried milk from Fukushima according to the Order issued by the Director of Food and Environmental Hygiene on 20 July 2018. Vegetables, fruits, milk, milk beverages and dried milk from the four prefectures (namely Ibaraki, Tochigi, Chiba and Gunma) are allowed to be imported with the conditions that they are accompanied by both a radiation certificate and an exporter certificate issued by the Japanese authority. Moreover, all chilled or frozen game, meat and poultry, poultry eggs and live, chilled or frozen aquatic products from those five prefectures may be imported into Hong Kong only if accompanied by a certificate issued by competent authority of Japan certifying that the radiation levels do not exceed the Codex Guideline Levels. The CFS will continue to monitor the latest development from international and Japanese authorities, and follow up on the restrictions on Japanese food imports in due course.
|It is said that some importers would deliberately change the labels of origin for foods imported from Japan so as to avoid disclosing the prefectures of origin of the food products. How can the Government perform its gate-keeping role?|
For prepackaged food, as stipulated in Cap. 132W of the Laws of Hong Kong, it shall be legibly labelled with the following particulars for consumers' information or enquiries:
- the full name and address of the manufacturer or packer; or
- (i) an indication of its country of origin, (ii) the name of the distributor in Hong Kong and (iii) the address of the distributor in Hong Kong.
While the legislation does not further require specification of the prefecture of origin of the food product, the safety of Japanese food imports is protected as the Centre for Food Safety (CFS) conducts testing (including radiation tests) on foods imported from Japan under its Food Surveillance Programme (FSP). We will adjust the FSP in response to changes in the external environment such as increasing the quantities and types of food items for testing to safeguard food safety.
In 2011, the CFS began to implement additional control and surveillance measures on food products imported from Japan. Since then, the CFS has tested more than 750,000 samples of imported Japanese food products. None of the samples was found with radiation levels exceeding the guideline levels of the Codex Alimentarius Commission and no incorrect/false labelling was identified.
- Radiation and Health
- Radiation and Food Safety
- Import Surveillance and Control
- Iodine Prophylaxis and Health Concern
- Radiological Standard for Bottled / Packaged Waters under Routine Condition
Publication -- Food Safety Focus
- Hong Kong Observatory - Radiation Monitoring, Assessment and Protection
- Security Bureau - Daya Bay Contingency of The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region
- Department of Health - Radiation Health FAQs and Glossary
- Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department - Radiological Testing of Fishery Products