FDA Takes Action to Ensure United States’ Food Supply is Safe from Radionuclide Contamination


In the aftermath of the March 11, 2011 earthquake in Japan, the country’s Fukushima nuclear power plant experienced a reactor failure, resulting in an explosion and subsequent release of radioactive materials. The level of radiation is causing consumer concern regarding the safety of products being imported into the United States from Japan.

According to an article posted by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on March 23, 2011*, based on current information “there is no risk to the United States food supply.” The article continued, indicating the FDA “is closely monitoring the situation in Japan and is working with the Japanese government and other U.S. agencies to continue to ensure that imported food remains safe. The FDA already has a very robust screening process for imports and has staff in place at the ports to monitor incoming products. The FDA does not have concerns with the safety of imported food products that have already reached the U.S. and that are in distribution.”

Due to the devastation of the earthquake and tsunami, very little (if any) product is being exported from Japan; however, the FDA has an import tracking system in place that is programmed to “automatically flag all shipments of FDA-regulated products from Japan, and the Agency maintains a registry of companies that prepare, pack, manufacture, or hold food for intended consumption in the U.S.” The FDA is taking extra precaution concerning shipments from those companies in affected areas and has communicated they are:

  1. Performing radiation screening of shipments at U.S. borders.
  2. Diverting seafood for testing by the FDA before it can enter the food supply.
  3. Detaining certain product types (e.g., milk, milk products, fruits, vegetables) from affected regions until shown to be free from radionuclide contamination.
  4. Refusing admission of certain product types (e.g., spinach, kakina) into the U.S.

Gordon Food Service’s Quality Assurance Team will continue to monitor the FDA’s position on the safety of imported products from Japan. If you would like additional information concerning the FDA’s stance on the safety of Japan’s food supply, please visit their Web site at http://www.fda.gov.

*http://www.fda.gov/newsevents/publichealthfocus/ucm247403.htm “Radiation Safety: Questions About Food Safety”, March 23, 2011, 7:55pm EDT.

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