Storage tanks hold treated water at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Okuma, Fukushima prefecture, Japan, as seen on April 13. (KYODO NEWS VIA AP)
HONG KONG – Hong Kong’s import control on Japanese food products, which account for 1.3 percent the city’s total food supply, is more stringent operationally than those imposed by the United States, the city’s health chief said.
Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan Siu-chee made this clarification in a written reply on Wednesday to a Legislative Council inquiry concerning Japanese government's plan to discharge Fukushima nuclear wastewater into the Pacific Ocean.
Chilled and frozen meat that can be sold in Fukushima must be accompanied by a radiation certificate when imported to Hong Kong, while such a requirement is not necessary in the US
“(The Hong Kong government) has strongly requested the Japanese authorities to provide data on various aspects and information on control and surveillance, including … the frequency and volume of discharge,” Chan said.
“We have relayed clearly to the Japanese authorities that they should not discharge the nuclear wastewater into the ocean unilaterally without the consensus of the international community.”
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Chan said the HKSAR adopted a “risk-based” approach in handling radiation tests on food products from Japan even as many other economies have stopped doing so soon after the Fukushima nuclear accident.
She also noted that a vast majority of the fruits from Fukushima are still banned in Hong Kong although they can now be put on sale in Japan and the US.
Currently, apart from the food products that are prohibited from export by the Japanese authorities, all vegetables, fruits, milk, milk beverages and dried milk from Fukushima are prohibited in Hong Kong.
Moreover, chilled and frozen meat that can be sold in Fukushima must be accompanied by a radiation certificate when imported to Hong Kong, while such a requirement is not necessary in the US.
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Over the past 10 years, more than 750,000 samples of Japanese food imports had been tested, according to Chan, who pledged to continue efforts to test imported food from Japan for their radiation level.
Chan said the Hong Kong government may further step up testing on Japanese food products and tighten import controls for products from Fukushima and its neighboring areas.
“The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department will keep in view the radiation levels of local catches, including conducting regular sampling tests on cultured fish collected at fish culture zones in Hong Kong waters,” Chan added.
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