Import control measures by HKSAR Government in the event that Japan begins to discharge nuclear-contaminated water (Q1.1-1.12)Radiation and Health (Q2.1-2.5) Radiation and Food Safety (Q3.1-3.11) Import Surveillance and Control (Q4.1-4.7)Iodine Prophylaxis and Health Concern (Q5.1-5.10) Radiological Standard for Bottled/Packaged Waters under Routine Condition (Q6.1-6.5)

Import control measures by HKSAR Government in the event that Japan begins to discharge nuclear-contaminated water

Question 1.1

From 24 August 2023 onwards, what are the import control measures on importing Japanese food? 

Answer 1.1

Both new and the implemented control measures will be carried out simultaneously. The details are as follows:

Control measures that have been implemented before 24 August, 2023 (with the exception for aquatic products) and will be maintained: Vegetables, fruits, milk, milk beverages, and dried milk originating in Fukushima are prohibited from being imported into Hong Kong, whereas such foods originating in the four prefectures surrounding Fukushima, namely Chiba, Tochigi, Ibaraki, and Gunma, are permitted to be imported with a radiation certificate and an exporter certificate issued by the Japanese authority. Chilled or frozen game, meat, poultry, and poultry eggs from the above five prefectures are allowed to be imported if accompanied by a radiation certificate issued by the Japanese authority proving that the radiation levels do not exceed the Codex Guideline Levels.

Aside from the implemented measures, the following new ones will be applied from 24 August, 2023: All aquatic products harvested, manufactured, processed, or packed in the ten metropolises/prefectures of Tokyo, Fukushima, Chiba, Tochigi, Ibaraki, Gunma, Miyagi, Niigata, Nagano, and Saitama are prohibited from being imported into Hong Kong, including live, chilled, frozen, dried, or otherwise preserved aquatic products, sea salt, and raw or processed seaweeds.

Question 1.2

What types of food are included in the term "aquatic product"?

Answer 1.2

According to the interpretation under Section 2 of the Food Safety Ordinance, Cap. 612, aquatic product refers to fish, shellfish, amphibian or any other form of aquatic life. This definition applies to all aquatic products, regardless of whether the aquatic products are grown or cultured in freshwater, saltwater and marine water. Therefore, aquatic food from rivers, ponds, and lakes also falls within the scope of the prohibition measures.

Question 1.3

What are the dried or otherwise preserved aquatic products?

Answer 1.3

Examples of "dried aquatic products": Dried abalone and shellfish.
Examples of "otherwise preserved aquatic products": ichiya-boshi (overnight-dried, i.e. processed by pickling or air-drying) or canned, vacuum-packed, or heat-treated aquatic products.

Question 1.4

How does the authority distinguish which Japanese food products are from which prefecture?

Answer 1.4

The Centre for Food Safety (CFS) of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department will inspect the label of the goods, along with their relevant documents (such as a bill of lading, packing list, etc.), when food is imported from Japan. In general, the label of the goods and the packing list contain the information of origin. Furthermore, Japan also has a traceability system for its exported food products, which facilitates the tracking of food sources.

Question 1.5

If the aquatic products are not manufactured in the regulated metropolis/prefectures but are simply transited through a regulated prefecture on their way to Hong Kong, are they still eligible for import? 

Answer 1.5

Yes. Aquatic products from Hokkaido or Kyushu, for example, will not be prohibited from being imported into Hong Kong, even if they are transitted through or delivered from Tokyo's airport, port, or seafood market, because passing through Tokyo does not subject them to prohibition.

Question 1.6

Following the implementation of the new measures, will Japanese aquatic products that are currently available for sale in Hong Kong's market continue to be permitted for sale?

Answer 1.6

All Japanese aquatic products that have already been imported into Hong Kong prior to the implementation of the new measures can continue to be sold as usual and will not be affected by the new measures.

Question 1.7

Will aquatic products that have been shipped prior to the implementation of the new measures, but arrive in Hong Kong after the implementation of new control measure, still be eligible for import?

Answer 1.7

Yes. Aquatic products that have been shipped prior to the implementation of the new measures can continue to be supplied to Hong Kong, and will not be affected by the new measures.

General public

Question 1.8

Can travellers to Japan bring back regulated aquatic products to Hong Kong for personal use?

Answer 1.8

Travellers can bring aquatic products from regulated metropolis/prefectures back to Hong Kong for their own use, but not for sale, distribution or other commercial purposes.

Nevertheless, the public should understand and take consideration of the food safety risks involved before consuming regulated aquatic products.

Question 1.9

What are the penalties for violating the Food Safety Order?

Answer 1.9

Anyone who violates any provision of the Food Safety Order is liable to a maximum fine of $100,000 and imprisonment for 12 months.

Question 1.10

Why is it still possible to find aquatic food from regulated metropolis/prefectures on the market after the new control procedures come into effect?

Answer 1.10

Some processed aquatic products, such as frozen, air-dried, and canned foods, were imported into Hong Kong before the implementation of the new measures. Due to their longer shelf life and sales period, they may still be available to the public for a period of time after the new measures come into effect, Therefore people may still be able to find these aquatic products from restricted metropolis/prefectures on the market for a while. All of these aquatic products are safe for consumption.

Question 1.11

There are portable nuclear radiation detectors on the market, claiming that they can detect the radiation level of food. Is such detection equipment reliable?

Answer 1.11

To ensure accurate and reliable results, nuclear radiation detectors for professional uses need to have the required accuracy and sensitivity and to be calibrated regularly by professional bodies to make sure they give accurate and reliable results. On the contrary, self-purchased portable radiation detectors may not have the required measurement capability as well as relevant professional certification and calibration. In addition, the use of portable radiation detection equipment by laypeople may be affected by the background radiation derived from naturally occurring radiation that persists in the environment, resulting in misjudgement or inaccurate results.

To ensure food safety, the Centre for Food Safety (CFS) has already expanded the scope of testing to cover all aquatic products imported from all prefectures of Japan, and has stepped up radiological tests on other processed food imported from Japan. In addition, the CFS publishes the testing results of imported foods from Japan on the Centre's website regularly for public reference. Members of the public can click here to view the latest testing figures.

Japanese food importers, distributors and catering industry

Question 1.12

Hong Kong has tightened its inspection of Japanese aquatic food imports. Will consignment clearance take more time?

Answer 1.12

According to current observations, the inspection time for most imported Japanese aquatic products is essentially the same as it has been in the past. The majority of them may be completed in about an hour, and the whole consignment clearance procedures, including inspection, usually last three to four hours. The duration of the entire consignment clearance process is determined by a variety of factors, including whether the relevant documents or information are clear and complete, the number of import batches, and whether multiple batches of goods arrive at the same time and need to be queued for inspection, among others.

Food safety is the government’s top priority. After the new measures take effect, the consignment clearance procedures will be more complicated than before, and the overall consignment clearance time could be longer. Therefore, the Centre for Food Safety reminds the industry to allow enough time to go through the relevant procedures.