Midday Express, 4 July 2011
The European Commission has added Shizuoka to, and removed Niigata and Yamagata from, the list of 13 prefectures (Fukushima, Gunma, Ibaraki, Tochigi, Miyagi, Yamagata, Niigata, Nagano, Yamanashi, Saitama, Tokyo, Kanagawa and Chiba) of Japan, for which special measures on the imports of feed and food apply.
The addition of Shizuoka to the list was deemed necessary after the authorities of Japan found tea leaves originating from Shizuoka not compliant with the Japanese action level of 500 Becquerel (Bq) per kilo (kg) for caesium, which is also the EU maximum level. Furthermore, the French authorities intercepted at the Roissy airport a shipment of green tea leaves originating from Shizuoka with non-compliant caesium levels. Specifically, about 1,000 Bq of caesium per kilo of green tea leaves were found.
The delisting of the Niigata and Yamagata, west and north/northwest of the site of the nuclear incident respectively, was decided after tests on almost 550 samples rendered compliant results.
The Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health (SCoFCAH) expressed today a favourable opinion on an amendment to Regulation (EU) 297/2011 foreseeing the aforementioned changes and thereby reducing the overall number of prefectures on the list to 12. It is expected that the Commission will adopt this draft Regulatitn by the end of this week.
All food and feed products coming from these 12 prefectures have to be tested for the presence of iodine-131, caesium-134 and caesium-137 before leaving Japan. They are also subject to a reinforced testing regime in the EU (i.e. physical checks, including laboratory analysis, are carried out on at least 10% of the consignments of food or feed coming from these prefectures). Feed and food products from the remaining 35 Japanese prefectures have to be accompanied by a declaration stating the prefecture of origin and will be randomly tested upon arrival in the EU.
The measures are applicable until 30 September 2011, but will be reviewed in early September. The Commission underlines that for a series of reasons, food safety risks from the nuclear accident in Japan are considerably low in the EU. Nevertheless, the Commission remains vigilant and has been active in ensuring that food and feed entering the EU from Japan is safe.