FDA halts Japanese food imports

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The FDA announced that it plans to quarantine all dairy products, fruits and vegetables imported from the vicinity in and around Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear station due to concerns about radiation following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

The announcement comes after Japanese officials reported potentially dangerous levels of radiation in milk, spinach and other vegetables in and around Fukushima prefecture.

A series of explosions and deliberate releases have sent radioactive particles from reactors on Japan's northeast coast streaming from the plant since last week.

On Monday, the Japanese government halted shipment of spinach and other leafy greens from four Japanese prefectures — Fukushima, Ibaraki, Tochigi and Gunma — and WHO confirmed “low-level contamination of drinking water” in a situation update on it's website.

“At this time, there is no public health threat in the U.S. related to radiation exposure,” according to an FDA statement. “FDA, together with other agencies, is carefully monitoring any possibility for distribution of radiation to the United States.”

Theoretical models do not indicate that significant amounts of radiation will reach U.S. coasts and territories or affect U.S. fishing waters, the agency added.

Less than 4% of the U.S. food imports come from Japan. Since the earthquake and tsunami, export activity in Japan has been severely limited, and FDA officials noted that the natural disaster reportedly halted food production prior to explosions at the reactor.

Although several FDA-approved potassium iodide products are available to reduce risks associated with radiation exposure, the U.S. government is currently discouraging residents from purchasing and consuming these products, “even as a preventive measure.”

The FDA is warning consumers to be “wary of internet sites and other retail outlets promoting products making false claims to prevent or treat effects of radiation or products that are not FDA approved.”

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