India Removes Japanese Food Imports off Scanners
In a landmark move by the Food Safety and Standards Authority (FSSAI) of India, issued an order withdrawing the order to monitor all food imports from Japan for radioactive contamination.
In a press release by the said agency, which is under the authority of the country's Union Health Ministry, fully states:
"The Advisory [dated 15.03.2011] issued regarding the monitoring of food articles imported from Japan with radioactive contamination, issued earlier by this Authority as a temporary measure in 2011, is hereby withdrawn".
The advisory was signed by Dr. Rubeena Shaheen, Director of FSSAI.
The monitoring order, which was issued in the wake of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in 2011, was done to prevent the easy entry of contaminated food products to India. Even five years after the catastrophe, there are reports still indicating that food imported by the East Asian country is still poses a contamination risk. The most recent one came from a report by the Japan Times, wherein food authorities from South Korea canceled a Japanese which could have featured food from Fukushima.
This move by the FSSAI has alarmed a number of experts, citing that five years on, contaminated food can lead to numerous complications and diseases, such as cancer. "Five years is not enough time to decide that food products from Japan are free from radiation and will be safe in the future", said a senior radioactive oncologist based in New Delhi to India Today.
Furthermore, a study published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in the United States found that fishes, particularly freshwater ones and those at the bottom of the ocean around Fukushima, are found to be at a higher risk of contamination.
However, Pawan Kumar Agarwal, the CEO of FSSAI stated the process was unnecessarily delaying the entry of Japanese food imports. He also stated that in the five years India has been monitoring the imports, no food product was discovered to have been contaminated.
Japanese food imports are regularly being scanned for radioactive contamination by countries like the United States, Germany, Russia, Turkey, and Australia. This move was seen as an attempt to strengthen the ties between India and Japan. India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Japan in 2014, and Shinzo Abe, his Japanese counterpart, visited India in turn the following year.