FSANZ acknowledges Japanese food imports with radioactive risk

Posted by Kate Carey on 20th September 2012

Australia’s food standards agency, Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ), has refocused its food monitoring program for the risk of imported food from Japan.

Following the nuclear accident after the Japan earthquake in March 2011, Australian Food News reported concerns of some imported foodstuffs being contaminated with radionuclicides.

Since this report, the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) has begun testing food that previously identified levels of radioactive caesium, after receiving further risk assessment advice from FSANZ.

Although FSANZ still stands by its statement that the risk posed remains ‘negligible,’ FSANZ has acknowledged that there is still risk of contaminated food entering Australia.

Foods that are subject to Radionuclicide testing

Food that has previously tested positive for radioactive caesium by Australian or Japanese authorities is under scrutiny. This includes:

–          Tea (fresh and dried)

–          Dried mushrooms

–          Fish (fresh, frozen or dried.)

These items from Chiba, Fukushima, Ibaraki, Miyagi, Saitama, Tochigi, Tokyo and Yamagata will continue to be monitored by DAFF to remain consistent with similar monitoring programs of other countries.

Safe levels for importing tea, dried mushrooms and fish

Despite low detection rates of radioactive substances in food, FSANZ has stated that the designated foods will be required to be “well below” internationally accepted levels to be sold in Australia.

As a further precaution, importers must provide documentation of the prefecture where the food has been sourced. Full Import Declarations must be completed and are required to include the address where the food has been manufactured, produced and packed.

Testing of Radionuclicide levels

Importers are required to nominate an approved analyst to conduct the testing, which is to be fully paid for by the importer. The approved analyst will take samples to be tested for radionuclicides, after an initial physical inspection by a laboratory officer. Any samples that have been tested for radionuclicides must remain in the laboratory until assessed by the approved officer, where the results will be reported to DAFF.