News 08.04.2011

EU corrects limits for imports from Japan

  • Radiation

In the wake of fierce criticism – from foodwatch and many others – over its decision to relax radiation limits for foodstuffs from Japan, the European Commission has corrected its policies. In response to the nuclear disaster at Fukushima, the Commission intends to adopt more stringent limits.

It’s a political about-turn: initially the European Commission and European Council (with the support of the German Federal Government) responded to the nuclear accident at Fukushima by relaxing the radiation limits for food from Japan through an emergency ordinance. A decision that sparked off a great deal of uncertainty and incomprehension – especially because the public was not properly informed. Although there has been no cause for concern over contaminated foodstuffs in Europe to date, the EU policies had established radiation limits for imports from Japan that were less stringent than before the emergency ordinance, less stringent than in Japan itself and less stringent than the limits for products from other countries.

Correcting the policies on limits

On Friday, 8 April 2011, the EU Commission made an abrupt move to correct its policies. For most foodstuffs from Japan, caesium levels of up to 500 becquerels per kilogram will be permissible in the future. Initially the limits had been raised from 600 to 1,250, and even 12,500 becquerels per kilogram for some products. The German Federal Ministry of Consumer Protection listed all future limits in a press release.

(Update 14 April 2011: The EU Commission’s announced decision to return to lower radiation limits has been implemented with the Implementing Regulation No. 351/2011 and the respective Annex.)