US Lax Regulations On Japan Food Imports Raise More Concerns As TPP Close To A Vote

A recent Japanese food mislabeling scandal in Taiwan showed the differing levels of oversight between countries when it comes to food imports. The US has refused to do any meaningful testing and has clung to an unusually high limit before any product would be taken off the market if it was even tested at all.

While China insists any food imported from Japan must have proof of radiation testing results and a prefecture of origin certificate, the US requires neither. China has also put in place a blanket ban on any food products from 10 prefectures known to have experienced contamination from the Fukushima disaster. Right now food imports from Japan to China receive a higher level of scrutiny than those imported to the US.

The US FDA is supposed to conduct radionuclide testing on the US food supply on a quarterly basis. That data has not been published since 2006. The FDA responded to an inquiry about the years of missing market basket data in 2014 where they claimed it would be published in early 2015 yet that data is still missing. FDA’s official response to risks from imported foods was that other countries are doing testing, Japan’s own testing (this is seriously limited) and their own market basket radiation testing that hasn’t been published since 2006. So in essence the FDA has done nothing to actually screen imported foods for radiation in any way.

A number of watchdog groups have been urging the FDA to take responsible action on food screening and the allowed radiation levels in food products. That petition is still open with the FDA. This issue has become even more complicated as the TPP could even further erode food import oversight and do away with country of origin labeling. These same groups are now calling on Senator Wyden (Oregon) to prevent the fast track of the TPP. More details are available in a press release here about the new problems TPP would make for food safety and who to contact.

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