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MARSH: Radiation in Japanese Produce Raises Supply Chain Issues

Posted on 04 Apr 11

Japan’s food supply is under heavy scrutiny worldwide, as elevated levels of radiation have been detected in spinach and milk, among other products.

"The current situation in Japan demonstrates how food safety has become complicated in the age of global supply chains,” noted Katherine Cahill, managing director, Marsh Global Product Risk Practice. “When food products become compromised, as in Japan, management of the event is critical to ensuring the health and safety of consumers, as well as mitigating the impact of any resulting recalls.”

While the true extent and impact of the radiation exposure from the Fukushima plant on agricultural products is unknown, there could be long-term effects on consumer purchasing habits and food safety regulations.

Organizations that import goods from Japan should ensure that best practice food safety risk management procedures are put into place to address concerns and any future food safety issues – if they have not been already.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have issued guidance on radiation in food, and have banned dairy and produce from the Fukushima, Gunma, Ibaraki, and Tochigi prefectures from entry into the United States.

The European Union, Canada, and Japan’s neighbors, such as Hong Kong and India, have taken similar steps, testing Japanese  food products for contamination, restricting fruit, vegetable, and milk imports, or instating full bans.