BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union said it will further reinforce its radiation controls on imports of food and animal feed from Japan from next week, in response to the crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
The announcement came the day after Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan asked Europe for a “calm, logical response” to the issue of Japanese food imports, and two weeks after the 27-nation bloc tightened its limits on such goods.
“The Commission believes it would be correct to amend the present levels in force since March 25 as an additional safeguard measure,” the President of the bloc’s executive, Jose Manuel Barroso, told EU lawmakers in Strasbourg on Tuesday.
Barroso said the decision — which must be approved by EU governments on Friday — was taken after Japan introduced stricter requirements on food products for domestic consumption and export, and was a purely precautionary measure.
“I should like to underline here that all the checks carried out up to now by member states... demonstrate negligible levels of radioactivity which are significantly below current Japanese and European standards,” he said.
The tougher EU limits on Japanese imports will remain in place until the bloc has carried out assessments of the current permitted levels of radiation in food imports around the world, which Barroso said would be completed by the end of June.
Any new EU levels will have to be enforced by the bloc’s 27 member states individually. Germany, Britain and France have started extra checks on Japanese food imports such as soy sauce and shellfish to ensure they are free from radioactivity.
Reporting by Charlie Dunmore, editing by Juliane von Reppert-Bismarck and Jason Neely