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No plans for MAF to match Aussie radiation checks


Food imported from Japan is not being checked at the New Zealand border - despite Australia signalling a higher level of security on that side of the Tasman.

NZPA
Thu, 24 Mar 2011

Food imported from Japan is not being checked at the New Zealand border - despite Australia signalling a higher level of security on that side of the Tasman.

In the wake of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami crippling the Fukushima nuclear plant about 300km northeast of Tokyo, officials there have reported abnormal levels of radionuclides in milk from the region where the reactors sit: spinach from Ibaraki Prefecture to the south, canola from Gunma Prefecture to the west, and greens from Chiba to the south. Shipments of the milk and spinach have been banned.

Tap water in Tokyo tested two times above the limits for radioactive iodine considered safe for infants - 100 becquerels per litre of iodine-131 - but experts have said this problem may subside when there is a change in wind direction and the catchments in which rain falls.

The United States has halted milk, vegetable and fruit imports from areas near the stricken Fukushima nuclear plant, Canada is requiring certification of the safety of food from the areas, and Germany, France, the Netherlands, Singapore and Britain are checking for radioactivity in fresh food products from Japan, such as shellfish and fish.

A Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) spokesman said New Zealand was "actively monitoring" the situation.

"When I say we're actively monitoring it, that could sound passive compared to what the States have done," he said.

"But to date we haven't identified any food imports from Japan that present a risk.

"What we import is very little, and it's mostly quite a speciality range of products like soy sauce, dry noodles, pickled ginger ... stuff like that."

The main foods causing radiation concerns - milk and leaf vegetables - tended not to be sent to New Zealand and MAF was working closely with importers, the spokesman said.

Asked whether anybody was running a Geiger counter over Japanese foods at the NZ border, he said: "Not that I'm aware of, no."

Although governed by the same food standards as New Zealand, Australian food safety officials have taken a more precautionary approach and asked for a holding order at the border on "foods of interest" from the prefectures of Fukushima, Gunma, Ibaraki and Tochigi.

In the wake of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami crippling the Fukushima nuclear plant about 300km northeast of Tokyo, officials there have reported abnormal levels of radionuclides in milk from the region where the reactors sit; spinach from Ibaraki Prefecture to the south; canola from Gunma Prefecture to the west; and greens from Chiba to the south. Shipments of the milk and spinach have been banned.

Tap water in Tokyo tested two times above the limits for radioactive iodine considered safe for infants - 100 becquerels per litre (Bq/kg) of iodine-131 - but experts have said this problem may subside when there is a change in wind direction and the catchments in which rain falls.

NZPA
Thu, 24 Mar 2011
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No plans for MAF to match Aussie radiation checks
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