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Friday, March 18, 2011

Japan : Gov't orders local authorities to test for radioactivity in foods

Via Kyodo News :

" The government has instructed local governments to conduct tests for radioactivity levels in domestically produced foods using a provisional standard set up by the government for the first time ever, as a result of the evolving nuclear crisis at a Fukushima power plant crippled by last Friday's magnitude 9.0 earthquake, ministry officials said Thursday.

''Although all the local authorities are required to conduct the tests, they will mainly be enforced on the fresh foods produced in municipalities related to the (nuclear power plant) accident,'' said Kohei Otsuka, vice minister for health, labor and welfare.

At present, no food has shown levels exceeding the standard, the health ministry said. The standard, which the ministry set up based on the reference index by the Nuclear Safety Commission, is relatively higher than international standards, Otsuka said.

The decision is likely to spark criticism from food distributors. A store manager in Tokyo said he may be unable to sell foods produced in the vicinity of nuclear power plants as the tests may evoke harmful rumors about products from the area.

''The government is spurring crisis. The decision makes it look as if contaminated food is already on the market,'' said Tatsuya Kakita, the head of a research institute on consumer issues."

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