FDA blocks some imports from Japan as group pushes for wider halt

The FDA announced in an import alert that officials “may detain, without physical examination, the specified products from firms in the Fukushima, Ibaraki, Tochigi, and Gunma prefectures.”

“On March 19, 2011 the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare confirmed the presence of radioactive iodine contamination in dairy, fresh produce, and infant formula products. Japanese data analyses revealed that the food products measured from March 16-18, 2011, indicated the presence of radioactive iodine was five times the acceptable levels. The elevated levels were identified in products tested in Kawamata Town, Fukushima Prefecture and Ibaraki Prefecture, areas around the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant,” the alert states.

The consumer group Food and Water Watch wants all Japanese food blocked, in part because the food inspection system in the U.S. is weak and underfunded, it argues.

“Last night the FDA announced it is blocking imports from the region in Japan where the nuclear accident occurred. This is a good start, but we believe they should go further and block imports from the whole country,” Food and Water Watch said in a statement.

Although Japanese food products make up only 4 percent of food imported into the U.S., much of it is seafood and food that could have been rinsed in radiated water.

“This accident in Japan and concerns about its food supply and possible imports from there highlights inadequacies in FDA's everyday program for imports. Cutting the budget for food safety protections isn't going to help,” the group notes “On a good day, less than 2 percent of seafood imported into the U.S. is inspected.”