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Trace levels of radiation found in Japanese tea shipment: TFDA

11/21/2023 07:25 PM
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Pixels photo for illustrative purpose only
Pixels photo for illustrative purpose only

Taipei, Nov. 21 (CNA) Trace but legal levels of caesium-137, a radioactive isotope, were detected in a recent shipment of green tea powder imported from Japan's Ibaraki Prefecture, the Taiwan Food and Drug Administration (TFDA) said Tuesday.

Ibaraki is one of five prefectures in Japan -- along with Fukushima, Tochigi, Gunma and Chiba -- from which Taiwan banned imports for 11 years due to radiation contamination fears that arose following the Fukushima nuclear accident in 2011.

On Feb. 21, 2022, Taiwan replaced its blanket ban with a testing and certification system for imports from those locations, the results of which are reported weekly by the TFDA.

Under current rules, the maximum permitted levels for caesium-134 and caesium-137 are 10 becquerels per kilogram for beverages, 50 bq/kg for baby food and formula, and 100 bq/kg for other food products.

Speaking to CNA Tuesday, TFDA Deputy Director-General Lin Chin-fu (林金富) said caesium-137 was detected at a level of 3 bq/kg in a recent shipment of green tea powder from Ibaraki Prefecture.

Although that is considered a trace amount and within legal limits, the TFDA, in compliance with regulations passed by the Legislature on the issue, gave the importer guidance on how to return or destroy the shipment but left the final decision on what to do with it up to them, Lin said.

None of the shipments tested by the TFDA this week were found to have had radiation levels above the legal limit, he said.

So far this year, trace but legal amounts of caesium-137 have been detected in matsutake mushrooms, matcha tea powder and lingonberry extract imported from various parts of Japan, including Hokkaido, Kagoshima and Aichi, among others, according to Lin.

Since March 15, 2011, Taiwanese authorities have done precautionary testing on 220,497 shipments of food products from Japan, of which 252 were found to have trace levels of radiation that did not exceed Taiwan or Japan's legal limits, TFDA data shows.

(By Shen Pei-yao and Matthew Mazzetta)


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