Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Should I be worried about radiation in my food?

On March 22, 2011 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced that it would stop all milk products, and vegetable and fruit products imported from the Japan's prefectures of Fukushima, Ibaraki, Tochigi and Gunma from entering
the U.S. -- a response to public fears about radiation from Japan's crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

This announcement comes despite the agency's repeated assurances that radiation found in foods in Japan was small, and posed no risk to the U.S. food supply.

Since 9/11, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the U.S. Department of Agriculture have implemented blanket radiation screenings for nearly all U.S.
imports, including food. The FDA programmed its import tracking systems to flag food shipments from Japan automatically, amid growing contamination concerns after this month's earthquake. But the agency says it will now stop all shipments of milk
products and fruits and vegetables originating from radiation affected areas from entering the U.S. It will detain these products without radiation screening,
according to an FDA spokesperson.

In 2010, the U.S. imported $16.5 billion worth of milk, fruits and vegetables, of which a small fraction -- $6.725 million -- came from Japan, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Most of the imported dairy products are processed foods such as casein and cheese. Imported fruits and vegetables include potatoes, frozen vegetables, citrus fruits and melons.

Source: LA Times 3/22/11

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