The Department of Health (DOH) yesterday said its amended draft regulation, which lowers nuclear radiation tolerance limits in food, actually broadens the scope of its control.
The agency made the remarks in response to concerns raised by legislators and civic groups over its plan to amend the Standard of Safety Tolerance of Nuclear Fallout or Radioactivity Contamination for Food, which included revising safety tolerance limits for radioactive isotopes Cesium-134 and Cesium-137 in food from 370 becquerels per kilogram (Bq/kg) to 600Bq/kg.
The revised levels led to concerns from several civic groups, who questioned why the new permitted level of Cesium-134 and Cesium-137 in food fell below the standard set in Japan, where food is more likely to be contaminated by radiation due to the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant crisis.
Some group members raised concerns that the change in standards could result in Taiwan importing radiation-contaminated food from Japan.
At a public hearing held by legislators on Thursday, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Director-General Kang Jaw-jou (康照洲) said assessment on revising standards began in 2010.
During the assessment, the department referred to international scientific evaluations and found that the draft regulation listed more the types of radioactive isotopes listed for control than the previous regulation.
The revised regulation actually broadens the scope of control and is not intended to benefit particular countries, Kang said, adding that “imported food from five prefectures in Japan is still prohibited in Taiwan.”
Kang said the FDA would consider the suggestions from civic groups and also communicate with them on the standards.
In a new statement, the FDA said that imports of food from five prefectures in Japan — Fukushima, Ibaraki, Tochigi, Gunma and Chiba — remained suspended, and eight types of food produced in other parts of Japan must go through lot-by-lot inspections for radiation levels, according to the same standards as those used in Japan