Food from Japan to Hong Kong is now being imported under eased and newly effective food safety protocols.
According to the Hong Kong Center for Food Safety (CFS), the 7-year-old order in response to the Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster was recently amended. The CFS is a unit of Government of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China.
The Fukushima disaster, a 2011 nuclear power plant failure stemming from a massive earthquake and tidal wave, caused Hong Kong to restrict food imports from that area and four other Japanese prefectures: Chiba, Gunma, Ibaraki and Tochigi.
Hong Kong recently completed a review of these risk management restrictions based on recent surveillance results and expert opinion from international organizations.
Based on that work, the new arrangement for import control on Japanese food went into effect on July 24.
In summary, import restrictions on food from Fukushima remain unchanged. Vegetables, fruits, milk, milk beverages, and dried milk from the other four prefectures are allowed to be imported with the condition that they are accompanied by both a radiation certificate and an exporter certificate issued by the Japanese authority.
The radiation certificate shows which of the four prefectures each consignment of products come from and attests that the radiation levels do not exceed standards set by the Codex Alimentarius.
Codex is a collection of internationally recognized standards, codes of practice, guidelines, and other recommendations relating to foods, food production, and food safety
According to the Codex, food is considered safe for human consumption if the radiation levels do not exceed those levels.
The exporter also must hold and produce exporter certificate which certifies the foods exported to Hong Kong by the exporter involved are fit for human consumption as far as radiological protection is concerned and are readily available for sale in Japan implying that the radiation levels do not exceed the Japanese standards which are more stringent than Codex levels.
Two levels of food safety clearance
Two levels of gatekeeping are involved in the current arrangement. At the export level, the Japanese authority that issues the radiation certificates and exporter certificates must ensure that each consignment of those products do not come from Fukushima and attest that the radiation levels of the food products do not exceed the Codex levels as well as the more stringent Japanese levels.
At the import level, the Centre for Food Safety (CFS) will continue to conduct radiation tests on every consignment of food products imported from Japan. Food products can only enter the local market after radiation testing has been performed. The CFS will strengthen inspection and testing on vegetables, fruits, and milk products from the four prefectures. The radiation test results will continue to be updated on the CFS’s website every working day for public access.
Updates by the Center for Food Safety on its radiation testing of food imported have been available since March 16, 2011.
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