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Trace levels of radiation found in mushroom powder imported from Japan

12/05/2023 03:21 PM
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People shop in a supermarket in Japan in this file photo. CNA file photo
People shop in a supermarket in Japan in this file photo. CNA file photo

Taipei, Dec. 5 (CNA) Trace but legal levels of caesium-137, a radioactive isotope, were detected in a batch of mushroom powder imported from Japan's Kumamoto Prefecture, Taiwan's Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said Tuesday.

Speaking to CNA Tuesday, FDA Deputy Chief Lin Chin-fu (林金富) said caesium-137 was detected at a level of 10.6 becquerels per kilogram in the batch of mushroom powder, which was sent for testing on Nov. 17.

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

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

Between Jan. 1 and Dec. 3 this year, five types of food products imported from Japan, including green tea powder, matcha powder, matsutake mushroom and lingonberry extract, were found to contain trace but legal levels of caesium-137, according to FDA data.

Following the Fukushima nuclear accident in 2011, Taiwan banned imports from the Japanese prefectures of Fukushima, Tochigi, Gunma, Ibaraki, and Chiba for 11 years due to radiation contamination fears.

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

According to the FDA, between March 15, 2011 and Dec. 3 this year, 253 products imported from Japan were found to contain trace levels of radiation, but none exceeded legal limits in Taiwan or Japan.

(By Shen Pei-yao and Bernadette Hsiao)

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