May 4, 2016

Food imported from Japan, In the wake of Fukushima nuclear power plant incident

​Hong Kong (HKSAR) - Following is a question by the Hon Wong Kwok-hing and a written reply by the Secretary for Food and Health, Dr Ko Wing-man, in the Legislative Council today (May 4):
The Government has set up an Expert Committee on Food Safety (Expert Committee) under the CFS to advise the DFEH on the formulation of food safety strategies and measures.According to the Expert Committee, three radionuclides, namely Iodine-131 (I-131), Caesium-134 (Cs-134) and Caesium-137 (Cs-137), are the main radionuclides posing health risks and are most relevant in the acute phase of nuclear emergencies.The Expert Committee also considered the adoption of the Codex guideline levels by the CFS appropriate in addressing the public concern over food safety.Besides, the Public Health and Municipal Services Ordinance (Cap.132) also stipulates that all food for sale in Hong Kong (including the food imported from Japan) must be fit for human consumption.

(4) In the wake of Fukushima nuclear power plant incident, individual countries or regions have implemented measures deemed fit to their risk assessment results and local circumstances.As such, the places of origin, the number of prefectures and categories of food products covered under their import control measures imposed on Japanese food may differ from those implemented in Hong Kong.Generally speaking, compared with Australia, New Zealand and Canada (which have now lifted all the import control imposed after the incident) as well as Singapore (which has only imposed limited control over the import of food products from Fukushima and imposed conditions on the import of food products from certain prefectures), the import control of Japanese food products exercised by the Mainland, Taiwan, Korea and Hong Kong is more stringent.

Regarding the control measures implemented by the United States (US), the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) imposes import restriction on Japanese foods (Import Alert 99-33) by referring to the list of food products that are prohibited from export compiled by the Japanese Government based on the results of their on-going food surveillance.When the Japanese Government updates the list, which can be found on the website of the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare of Japan, the FDA will make changes to the import alert accordingly.In other words, the Japanese food products and prefectures subject to import restrictions in the US mirror the export prohibition measures taken by Japan.