Rigorous monitoring of food from Japan to continue: health ministry

The Ministry of Health and Welfare has said that it will continue to monitor imported Japanese food rigorously to ensure public health amid concerns that Taiwan is considering lifting a ban on food imported from radiation-affected prefectures in Japan.

The ministry will give a report on its on-site inspection of imported Japanese food at a Legislative committee on Monday.

An advance copy of the written report said that food imports from the prefectures of Fukushima, Ibaraki, Tochigi, Gunma and Chiba were suspended on March 25, 2011, with those areas suspected of having suffered radiation contamination as a result of a meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in March 2011.

Since May 15, 2015, importers of Japanese food products have been required to present certificates of origin to prove items do not originate from any of the five prefectures, the report said.

For some imports such as tea, baby food, dairy and aquatic products, radiation inspection certificates have also been required, it added.

As of the end of the October, inspections on all imported Japanese food had met the new regulations, the report said.

A Taiwanese delegation comprised of health, foreign, agriculture and atomic agency officials along with nuclear medicine doctors and food safety experts traveled to Japan in August to conduct on-site inspections.

The delegation visited central and local government agencies in charge of radiation monitoring programs, production sites for agricultural and fishery products, food processing plants, radiation monitoring labs, the Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant as well as private groups and doctors.

The ministry said that according to statistics provided by Japan, of 260,538 samples inspected in 2015, only 279, or 0.1 percent were found to have an excessive level of radiation.

In addition, Taiwan's delegation also checked Japanese supermarkets and found that food from the five prefectures was on sale there, the report said.

Media reports have said that since president Tsai Ing-wen (???) assumed office in May, different Japanese groups have asked Taiwan to lift the ban on food products from the five prefectures.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel