August 24, 2023
PETALING JAYA – The Health Ministry will impose a Level 4 (Surveillance) inspection on high-risk food products imported from Japan.
The inspections, which would be for radioactive content, would be done at the international entry points into the country, said Health director-general Datuk Dr Muhammad Radzi Abu Hassan.
The move follows the planned release of Fukushima’s treated radioactive waste water starting Aug 24 as announced by the Japanese authorities.
Japan had confirmed that the release of the treated wastewater was in accordance with Japanese safety standards that would be implemented in stages and had received approval from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on July 4, said Dr Muhammad Radzi in a statement on Wednesday (Aug 23).
He also acknowledged that the issue has received various reactions from several countries around the Pacific Ocean.
Based on Health Ministry data, from 2022 to June 2023, fish and fish-based products are among the highest imported products from Japan, followed by fruit, vegetable products and processed food and beverages with a total value of over RM880mil.
He also added that in Malaysia, radionuclide contamination is controlled under Regulation 37 of the Food Regulations 1985.
Meanwhile, the Codex international standard has issued the General Standard for Contaminants and Toxins in Food and Feed, CXS 193-1995 as a guide for the control of radionuclide contamination in food.
Dr Muhammad Radzi also said that the Health Ministry, through the Food Safety and Quality Division, had been monitoring food products imported from Japan from May 2011 until April 2012 after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant incident that followed the Tohoku earthquake on March 11, 2011.
“A special monitoring programme was also carried out in 2019, where a total of 102 samples were analysed, and all samples were found not to exceed the prescribed rate,” he said.
He added that the Health Ministry is aware of consumers’ concerns on this issue, and assured that the health authorities are constantly conducting surveillance at the international entry points and local markets to ensure food safety.
Treated water stored at the compound of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant will be released gradually into the Pacific Ocean starting Thursday (Aug 24).
The announcement by the Japanese government had prompted an angry response from countries such as China and South Korea, and partial import bans on Japanese seafood by Hong Kong and Macau.