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Taiwan bans import of food from five Japanese prefectures

2011/03/25 21:00:20

Taipei, March 25 (CNA) Taiwan suspended imports of food productsFriday from five Japanese prefectures, including Fukushima, where anuclear power plant was damaged by a powerful earthquake andsubsequent tsunami March 11.

Minister of Health Chiu Wen-ta said all safety inspections offood entering the country from Fukushima, Ibaraki, Tochigi, Gunma andChiba -- which have all reported widespread radioactive contamination-- had been suspended, effectively barring all entry of food fromthose areas.

In addition to the ban, Chiu said, his department will continueradiation checks on food products shipped to Taiwan from other areasof Japan, divided into eight categories -- fresh and chilled fruitand vegetables, frozen fruit and vegetables, fresh and chilledaquatic products, frozen aquatic products, diary products, baby food,mineral water and seaweed products.

In addition, more stringent checks will be performed on processedand packaged food products imported from Japan after March 12, Chiusaid.

Meanwhile, amid public outcry over what it felt was thegovernment's slow response to the crisis at the Fukushima power plantin comparison with countries such as the United States, which bannedimports of diary products, fruit and vegetables from Fukushima,Ibaraki, Tochigi and Gunma three days ago, Tsai Shu-chen, a divisionchief of the Cabinet-level Department of Health, said that in fact,Taiwan's measures for safeguarding people's health are much stricterthan those of the U.S.

There have been no food exports to Taiwan from the affectedprefectures since the start of the nuclear crisis, Tsai said.

However, Chan Chang-chuan, a professor at National TaiwanUniversity's Institute of Occupational Medicine and IndustrialHygiene, suggested that the ban should be expanded to cover all theprefectures located within a radius of 150 km of the damaged nuclearpower plant, citing the 1986 Chernobyl disaster that affected areaswithin 145 km of the Russian nuclear power plant.

As of 11 a.m. Friday, the number of travelers at airports inTaipei, Taoyuan and Kaohsiung detected with minor radioactivecontamination continued to stand at 40 people out of 47,610 scanned,the Cabinet-level Atomic Energy Council said.

(By Chen Ching-fang, Yang Shu-min and Elizabeth Hsu)