x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Japan's food imports stopped at the UAE border

The local food control authority is testing to ensure that food imported from Japan is not radioactive.

ABU DHABI //The Government is testing food imported from Japan for radioactivity and will not allow contaminated items to enter the country.

The move comes as Japan continues efforts to contain radiation from the Fukushima nuclear plant, which was damaged as a result of a tsunami triggered by a 9.0-magnitude earthquake on March 11.

"In view of the current situation in Japan, all the border points have been asked to detain all food products from Japan to conduct the necessary tests to ensure their safety," said Mohammed al Reyaysa, the director of communications for the Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority (ADFCA).

The UAE is one of many countries that have stepped up efforts to ensure contaminated food does not reach consumers.

Japan's government halted the sale of milk on Saturday from a town in the same district as the nuclear plant. The sale of spinach from a nearby area was also halted after items there tested positive for radioactive iodine.

Although the radiation levels exceeded the limits allowed by the Japanese government, Yukio Edano, Japan’s chief cabinet secretary, said on Saturday that the products “pose no immediate health risk”, according to the Associated Press. The amount of radiation detected in the milk would be as much as that emitted from one CAT scan – if the milk were consumed continually for a year, Mr Edano said. The radiation found in the spinach was one-fifth of that amount.

Items from Japan make up a small portion of the UAE’s imported food. In the past four months, just under 58,000kg was imported, according to the ADFCA.

Japan’s ministry of health, labour and welfare is considering halting the sale of all food products from the Fukushima area, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Also yesterday, the US Food and Drug Administration announced that it was collecting information on where imported products were grown, harvested or manufactured in Japan to ensure imports were not tainted with radiation.

The US agency already screens all of its imports before they reach the border, the statement said.

Nuclear reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi plant began overheating and leaking radiation into the atmosphere in the days after the March 11 earthquake and the subsequent tsunami overwhelmed its cooling systems.

mdetrie@thenational.ae