Nuclear disaster in Japan

Berlin / Munich. The consumer organisation foodwatch and the Environment Institute Munich eV have criticised the information policy of the federal government on food safety after the nuclear disaster in Japan. Federal Consumer Protection Minister Ilse Aigner has for days talked about "enhanced control measures" and "special protection standards" - but she does not inform the public about the fact that the EU-wide limits ​​for the radioactive contamination of foodstuffs from the affected areas in Japan have been increased over the weekend. Was previously the maximum allowed limit of the cumulative radioactivity of cesium-134 and cesium-137 600 becquerels per kilogram, this past weekend up to 20 times higher ceilings of up to 12,500 becquerels per kilogram for certain products in Japan came into force.

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While in Europe there is currently no cause for concern about highly contaminated products from Japan in the trade - this does not justify the lack of information from the federal government nor the raising of the limit values. "The minister speaks only of increased controls and fails to mention that at the same time the security standards for Japanese food have been reduced. Mrs. Aigner withholds important information from the public - it certainly does not win the trust of the citizens", Thilo Bode, director ofthe consumer organization Foodwatch, said. "It is absurd in the current situation to increase the limits for Japanese food in order to introduce them into the EU", said Christina Hacker, member of the Board of the Environmental Institute Munich eV.

Both organizations were in favor of imposing a complete import ban. "Our solidarity is currently with the victims of the disaster in Japan, and this measure would certainly be no great loss to the Japanese economy," said Christina Hacker from the Munich Environmental Institute. In any case, the volume of imports of food from Japan to Europe is very low.
Usually for food and food imports apply limits for cesium-134 and 137 of typically 370 becquerels per kilogram for infant formula and milk products and 600 Bq / kg for other foods (EU regulation 733/2008). With Emergency Ordinance 297/2011, which entered into force on 27 March 2011, the European Commission has increased these limits for products from the affected regions Japanese considerably: to 400 becquerels per kilogram for infant formula, to 1000 Bq / kg for milk products and to 1250 Bq / kg for other foods. Certain products such as fish oil or spices may even exceed these limits by ten times, ie up to 12,500 becquerels per kilogram - 20-times the previous limit.

Background for the increase is EU Regulation 3954/1987, adopted in 1987 after the Chernobyl disaster in 1987. Accordingly to this regulation, in the event of a "nuclear emergency" the limits of the allowable radioactive contamination of foods can be raised to prevent food shortages. 'To bring these rules into force now is absurd, because in Europe there is no nuclear emergency, and certainly no shortage of food. Imports from Japan are of no importance for the food security of European citizens", say Thilo Bode and Chris Hacker.

Press Contacts
foodwatch eV: Martin Rucker, E-mail: presse [at], Tel: +49 (0) 30 / 24 04 76-23