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Hong Kong should ease post-Fukushima ban on some Japanese food imports, government says via South China Morning Post

Centre for Food Safety plans to resume imports of fruit, vegetables, milk and dairy from four prefectures neighbouring stricken area, as long as they pass radiation tests

Hong Kong should relax a ban on food imported from Japan which has been in place since the Fukushima nuclear disaster, the government proposed on Tuesday, saying it considered the health risk low.

The suggestion of relaxing the seven-year-old ban was based on a scientific assessment of food safety, said a government source, who said trade was not the main concern.

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But the government plans to resume imports of fruit, vegetables, milk and dairy from the four neighbouring prefectures, as long as they pass radiation tests. The ban on produce from Fukushima should stay in place “with a view to addressing the concerns of the public”, said the proposal submitted to the Legislative Council on Tuesday by the Centre for Food Safety, under the Food and Health Bureau.

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But legislator Helena Wong Pik-wan disagreed that the ban should be relaxed at all.

“There is no food shortage in Hong Kong and there is no urgency to relax the ban,” she said. “The government should have public health as the foremost consideration, instead of putting it at unnecessary risk.”

She expressed worries that contamination in Japan is not over, as it can take up to 30 years for radiation to wear off. She pointed out that mainland China, Taiwan and South Korea had maintained their bans.

Since the ban came in, the centre has tested 490,000 food samples from Japan and found low radiation levels in 46. The most recent tainted sample was found in September 2016.

Japanese health officials said more than 2 million food samples had been collected in the country for radiation testing by early March, and most of the 1,200 found with unacceptable radiation levels were taken before March 2013, nearly 60 per cent of them from Fukushima.

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