Wednesday, March 23, 2011

UAE strictly regulates Japanese food products

Federal and local bodies tighten control over food imports from Japan

23 March 2011, The Gulf Today

No consumer food products contaminated by nuclear radiation from quake and Tsunami-hit Japan will be distributed in the UAE, assured the federal food safety watchdog.
At the federal level, the Ministry of Environment and Water (MoEW), on Tuesday, put into place tight control measures concerning food imports from Japan.
On the other hand, in the Emirate of Dubai, its civic body — concerned about possible radiation contamination — on Tuesday assured that no food products from Japan would be released for sale in the Emirate until lab tests confirm that they are free from contamination and suitable for human consumption.
Dr Mariam Hassan Al Shanasi, acting undersecretary at the MoEW told The Gulf Today that the ministry has undertaken necessary actions to screen foodstuffs imported from Japan.
“The labs under the ministry will conduct the necessary examinations on the Japanese food items to ensure they are safe for human consumption,” she added.
“Those foodstuffs which are contaminated will be confiscated forthwith,” indicated Dr Al Shanasi.
According to her, the country’s labs and facilities can detect radioactive material in the imported foodstuffs.
A senior official at the Dubai Municipality said that the most of the imported food items from Japan to Dubai include fruits, vegetables, fish and seafood products, beverages, soft drinks, grains and cereals, herbs, spices, coffee and tea products, chocolates, sugar and confectioneries.
He pointed out, “However, the food imports from Japan cover less than 1 per cent of the total number of shipments to Dubai. Japanese expatriates living in the emirate are the main consumers of these food products.”
“A total of 450 Japanese shipments arrived in Dubai between January and December in 2010, while the number of shipments is 175 since January to March 15 this year. The total weight of shipments from Japan was estimated at 9,000.54 tonnes last year, while it’s 2,900.83 tonnes until March 15 of this year,” disclosed the municipality.
Speaking about the scientific specifications of the possible radioactive substances, Dr Al Shanasi elaborated, “The radioactive substances that may affect the foodstuffs include Caesium-134 and Caesium-137, which can be detected in water.”
The Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority (ADFCA) had said on Monday that all food items from Japan will be supplied in the market after stringent monitoring and procedures of laboratory tests.