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EU reinforces controls on imports of food and feed from Japan

The European Union is reinforcing controls on imports of food and feed from certain regions of Japan, where production could be affected by the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant

March 30, 2011


EU reinforces controls on imports of food and feed from Japan

In order to further limit possible risks to the safety of its Food Chain, the European Union is reinforcing controls on imports of food and feed from certain regions of Japan, where production could be affected by the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Member States endorsed, at a meeting of the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health (SCoFCAH), a Commission proposal to impose special import conditions. The measures apply to all feed and food originating in or consigned from 12 prefectures of Japan, (Fukushima, Gunma, Ibaraki, Tochigi, Miyagi, Yamagata, Niigata, Nagano, Yamanashi, Saitama, Tokyo and Chiba) including the four most affected by the accident. All products from these prefectures have to be tested before leaving Japan and will be subject to random testing in the EU. Feed and food products from the remaining 35 prefectures will have to be accompanied by a declaration stating the prefecture of origin and will be randomly tested upon arrival in the EU. The Union will review these measures every month.

In particular each consignment of food or feed from the 12 prefectures must be accompanied by a declaration by the Japanese authorities that the product does not contain levels of radionuclides that exceed the EU's maximum permitted levels. The Commission regulation makes specific reference to iodine-131, caesium-134 and caesium-137.

Importers must also notify the national competent authorities two days before the arrival of each consignment of food and feed from Japan. Feed and food products that were harvested or processed before March 11 are not affected by the provisions of this regulation. Nevertheless, these products from all of Japan's territory would have to be accompanied by a declaration stating clearly that they were harvested/ processed before March 11.

As regards food and feed harvested/produced after March 11, the measures provide that:

Upon arrival in the EU, the competent authorities of the Border Inspection Posts (BIP) or of the consignment's Designated Point of Entry (DPE) will carry out document and identity checks on all food and feed consignments from Japan;

Physical checks, including laboratory analysis, will be carried out on at least 10% of the consignments of food or feed coming from 12 prefectures mentioned above. Physical checks will also be carried out on at least 20% of the consignments coming from the remaining 35 prefectures;

Pending the availability of the test results, products shall be kept under official control for a maximum of five working days. The consignments will be released when the importer will present to the custom authorities the favourable results of the official controls mentioned above;

Products that are found to exceed the maximum permitted levels shall not be placed on the market and will either be safely disposed of or returned to Japan.

The E.U. Commission said that currently there is no evidence of risk for EU consumer from increased radiation levels in food and feed products imported from Japan. However, they have reinforced measures in order to further limit any possible risks to its food chain.

Japan is authorized to export to the EU only four products of animal origin, namely: fishery products; bivalve molluscs; casings; petfood. In 2010, the total value of agricultural products imported to the EU from Japan stood at €187 million for agricultural products and €18 million for fishery products.

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