Food Law News - EU - 2012

Commission Midday Express, 23 March 2012

CONTAMINANTS - EU updates measures on imports from Japan

At a meeting of the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health (SCoFCAH), Member States' experts today endorsed a Commission proposal to align the maximum levels of caesium-134 and caesium-137 with the new Japanese maximum levels which will apply from 1 April 2012.

Measures on reinforced controls that were originally adopted on 24 March 2011 to control imports of food and feed coming from certain regions (today 11 prefectures: Fukushima, Gunma, Ibaraki, Tochigi, Miyagi, Shizuoka, Yamanashi, Saitama, Tokyo, Kanagawa and Chiba) that could be affected by the Fukushima nuclear incident, will also continue to apply until 31 October 2012 and will continue to be regularly reviewed.

Continuing reinforced controls means that all food and feed products coming from these regions must be tested and certified as being within safety levels for the presence of caesium-134 and caesium-137 before leaving Japan as well as being subject to random testing upon arrival in the EU. Feed and food products from the remaining 36 Japanese regions (prefectures) do not need to be tested but must be accompanied by a declaration stating the prefecture of origin, and also remain subject to random testing at the point of entry into the EU. Applying the same maximum levels in the EU and Japan will continue to provide consistency between the pre-export controls performed by the Japanese authorities and the controls on the level of radionuclides performed on feed and food originating from Japan at the point of entry into the EU. Sake, whiskey and shochu will be excluded from the scope of these new measures, since the tests that were carried out by the Japanese authorities detected no radioactivity (these findings were confirmed by controls carried out at point of import).

The Commission underlines that food safety risks from the nuclear accident in Japan are considerably low in the EU. EU imports from Japan in 2011 represented 1.9% of the total EU agri-food imports.

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