By Andrew Restuccia - 03/23/11 02:55 PM EDT
The news comes as the Obama administration is working to ensure that U.S. food imports from Japan are not contaminated by radiation. The Food and Drug Administration issued an “Import Alert” Tuesday on milk, vegetables and fruit coming from four parts of Japan.
The alert allows U.S. officials to detain affected products if they make their way to the United States. But, the alert notes, Japanese officials have already halted the export of the affected products.
Radioactive iodine, which was found in dairy products and some produce in Japan, has a number of potential health effects.
“Though radioactive iodine has a short half-life of about 8 days and decays naturally within a matter of weeks, there is a risk to human health if radioactive iodine in food is absorbed into the human body,” the FDA says. “If ingested, it can accumulate in and cause damage to the thyroid. Children and young people are particularly at risk of thyroid damage due to the ingestion of radioactive iodine.”
The effect of radiation released from the stricken reactors is becoming a major issue of concern in Japan. Tokyo officials said Wednesday that infants should not drink the city’s tap water.