FDA: Sweet potatoes from Japan found tainted with radiation


BANGKOK, 28 March 2011 (NNT) – The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has detected radioactive contamination in sweet potatoes from Japan while the product’s import has already been halted. 

Following an inspection for radiation contaminants in food products imported from Japan during 16-27 March, the FDA reported that a sample collected from 75 kilograms of Japanese sweet potatoes tested positive. The lot came from Ibaraki Prefecture, which is one of the areas in northeastern Japan hit by a deadly earthquake and tsunami on 11 March and now facing nuclear radiation leakage.

However, the level of contamination was measured at 15.25 Becquerel per kilogram, which was still below the hazardous threshold of 100 Becquerel per kilogram set by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Prior to the discovery, the FDA had already ordered suspension of sweet potato imports from the devastated country. The authority has also imposed quarantine on the tainted batch in order to prevent sale and distribution and will coordinate with the Office of Atoms for Peace (OAP) on its disposal later on.

In response to information from Japanese officials that radioactive contaminants had been found in seawater off the coast of Japan, the FDA expects the seafood industry to be affected and will thus continue to keep vigilance for tainted import products from the country.