Is it safe to eat food imported from Japan right now in the wake of the earthquake disaster and concerns about radiation exposure?
The FDA is stopping the import of dairy products and produce from the parts of Japan where there is radiation from the damaged nuclear plants. For additional safety, the FDA is screening any food products that come into the U.S. specifically from the four Japanese prefectures of Fukushima, Ibaraki, Tochigi and Gunma. These areas surround the leaking nuclear plants, and tests will determine whether products are free of radiation. The FDA will monitor foods coming in, will sample foods, and actually have a list of food manufacturers from the affected region so they know which foods coming to our ports should receive special attention. You can read more about how food is tracked for safety at http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/PublicHealthFocus/ucm247403.htm.
Common foods that come from Japan include seafood, snack foods, dairy foods, processed fruits and vegetables and dietary supplements. All foods imported from Japan make up less than 4 percent of foods imported from all sources. Dairy products make up only one-tenth of one percent of all FDA-regulated products coming from Japan. Less than two percent of the seafood consumed in the United States is imported from Japan.
See our Food Safety feature articles for more information on food safety topics.
Answered by Ellen Schuster, M.S., R.D., Associate State Specialist, University of Missouri Extension
Last update: Friday, March 25, 2011